By Duncan Mackay in Durban

London_2012_gymanstics_ticket_posterJuly 2 - London 2012 should be congratulated for the success of its ticketing programme, not criticised because it is oversubscribed, the former marketing director of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has claimed.

Michael Payne, the man credited with the multi-billion Olympic sponsorship programme and who worked for the IOC for 21 years, believes the huge criticism that London 2012 chairman Sebastian Coe and his team have come in for over its ticketing strategy has been unfair and unjust and that ti should be celebrated as the most successful in the 115-year history of the Games.

"I have been intimately involved with the ticketing programmes of some 14 Olympic Summer and Winter Games," Payne told insidethegames here. 

"As a former director of the International Olympic Committee, I helped oversee the design and development of these Olympic ticket programmes.

"The international sports community and international media looks on at the London Olympic ticketing programme, with utter amazement and total disbelief.

"They have never before seen an Olympic Games sell out 23 out of 25 sports [not including football], never mind achieve this, with one year to go to the Games.

"This does not even normally happen by the time of the Closing Ceremony."

Michael_PayneThe lottery system employed by London 2012, which saw 700,000 people win tickets, has been harshly criticised but Payne (pictured) claimed that there has never been a fairer method of distributing tickets to the public. 

"They never before seen such an open and democratic ticket distribution process implemented in the host country, with new initiatives targeted at special markets, like the youth sector that I am certain will become a model for all future Olympic Games," he said.

"They can not understand how the British media and others might have interpreted the London ticket programme as a problem and failure."

Payne, who is English but now lives in Monaco having spent many years in Switzerland, claims that the fact London 2012 is so oversubscribed is a testament to the IOC's decision to award the Games to Britain.

"Never before in the 115 year history of the Olympic Games has the world ever seen such a successful Olympic ticket programme - validating I believe the IOC's original decision to bring the 2012 Olympics to  London  to ensure full stadia packed with knowledgeable, passionate fans," said Payne, who is now a special advisor to Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone.

"Normally Organising Committees are criticised for empty stadia and building too large venues that then become white elephants.

"Let's be fair, and recognise the tremendous and unprecedented success of the London 2012 ticketing programme – something Britain should be justly proud of."

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