"Unnecessary secrecy" over tickets damaging London 2012 claims new report
Thursday, 16 February 2012
February 16 - Unnecessary secrecy risks jeopardising public confidence in the ticketing programme for London 2012, a new report published today by the London Assembly warns.
The report - Sold Out? - has been compiled following, what the Assembly's Economy, Culture and Sport (ECS) Committee claims, is a two-year campaign to get details from London 2012 about the ticketing process for the Olympics and Paralympics.
The report highlights their failure to provide a detailed breakdown of how many tickets have been sold at what price for each event, including for what sports the tickets priced at £20 ($31/€24) or less are available for.
London 2012 has previously indicated that around 28 per cent of the 8.8 million tickets would be at the bottom end of the price range, but allegedly refused to provide information to the ECS to prove whether they were spread equally across all events, or concentrated in events like football, where supply exceeds demand.
The Assembly are angry that the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) are exempt from having to provide the details through the Freedom of Information Act because it is a private company.
It has also claimed commercial confidentiality, but the ECS claims that this is unjustified when London 2012 is the sole provider of Games tickets and, they claim, previous Organising Committee has published the information.
"It is completely unacceptable that an organisation that only exists because of a huge investment of public money can hide behind its status as a private company to avoid questions it does not like," said Dee Doocey (pictured), of the ECS Committee.
"For most people, the Games will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, so it's vital they have confidence in the ticketing process, particularly those who have missed out on tickets.
"LOCOG is putting public confidence at risk by refusing to provide a complete breakdown of how many tickets were available for each event.
"We always knew that ticket allocation would be difficult and would disappoint some people.
"But if LOCOG had been open and transparent right from the start, a lot of public suspicion and anger could have been avoided.
"LOCOG's legal status should not excuse them from the transparency and openness we expect in other areas of public life."
Preparations for London 2012, which have otherwise been widely praised as being the most successful in Olympic history, have been overshadowed by a series of high-profile public rows over ticketing.
This latest report also notes outstanding questions over how 10,000 tickets to the synchronised swimming were sold accidentally and subsequently withdrawn, technical faults with the ticket resale website; and the number of disabled people taking up the offer of free tickets for carers.
The report highlights the experience of Sydney 2000 as how London could have avoided problems.
"Lessons could have been learned from previous Olympic and Paralympic Games," it says.
"[Sydney] was similarly criticised ahead of the 2000 Games for, among other things, a lack of transparency about its ticketing policy.
"After considerable pressure, SOCOG did release a session-by-session breakdown of ticket availability and demand for every price category of every sport.
"The information was released after the public ballot but before the Games.
"It is disappointing to see the mistakes made before previous Games, in particular Sydney 2000, being repeated by LOCOG with the same consequences for UK residents trying to buy tickets for London 2012.
"There is now even less transparency than in Sydney."
But the report does defend London 2012 against charges that too many tickets are being made available to Olympic sponsors at the expense of the public, although it also claims that the numbers being provided to companies like Samsung, Coca-Cola, McDonald's, BT and Lloyds TSB should be published.
"The Committee does not consider the number of tickets reserved for sponsors is excessive, considering their financial contribution to the Games," it says.
"However, it is important Londoners are able to see what tickets sponsors have access to.
"LOCOG should publish the total number of tickets purchased by sponsors for each event; in providing this information there is no need to breach confidentiality by specifying which sponsor(s) bought the tickets.
"To help Londoners understand how sponsors' tickets are being used, we also urge LOCOG to encourage all sponsors to specify how many of their tickets are being made available to the public through promotional activity."
The ECS Committee has now written to the Olympic Board, which is made up of London Mayor Boris Johnson, Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt, London 2012 chairman Sebastian Coe and British Olympic Association chairman Colin Moynihan, asking them to provide the missing information by February 27 for publication on March 7.
"The Games' success depends on public support and we now call on the Olympic Board to help ensure that public confidence in the distribution of 2012 tickets is maintained," the report concludes.
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