Olympian opacity: Why the secrets if LOCOG have nothing to hide?


 

John Biggs is a Labour member of the London Assembly for City and East

The London Assembly’s Economy, Culture and Sport Committee published a report this week entitled, “Sold Out? Update on ticketing for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games

We raised a number of issues with the way LOCOG are dealing with the selling of tickets to the London 2012 Olympics. The main one being that they are refusing to explain the status of the 7 million tickets they have already sold (out of a total of 11 million).

We would like to know who will be attending the Games and how they got their tickets. The general breakdown for all the tickets is as follows:

• 75 per cent for purchase through UK Application process

• 12 per cent for purchase through National Olympic Committees, primarily International Public

• 8 per cent for purchase by sponsors and stakeholders

• 5 per cent remaining for purchase by the International Olympic Committee, international federations, other global sports bodies represented at the Games, international broadcast rights holders & prestige ticketing partners.

When the ticketing process was launched Seb Coe confirmed that for the prestige events the 75 per cent figure would drop. LOCOG have confirmed that only 50 per cent of tickets for the 100m final will be available to the British public.

So why are LOCOG refusing to come clean? They have told us that “data protection rules” and “the need to maintain commercial confidentiality” are reasons why they cannot provide such information until after the Games.

After the publication of the report they said:

“We have always said we will publish information on ticketing when we have a complete and accurate set of data and information.”

However that misses the point. We are not asking for a complete picture of the situation. We are asking for a snapshot of the ticket sales process as it stands today.

This same problem happened during the Sydney Olympics, when SOCOG was forced to provide the information after public pressure. A parliamentary report after the games stated that:

“SOCOG should have recognised [earlier] the importance Australians place on transparent and fair processes and released details of the number of tickets available to the public for each session prior to the public ballot”.

I asked, “Why the secrets if LOCOG have nothing to hide?” Let me tell you what I think they are hiding and why this is.

They have already said that 50 per cent of tickets to the men’s 100m final are available to the general British public, but how many other sports also have this 50 per cent availability? Track Cycling, Rhythmic Gymnastics, Triathlon, Modern Pentathlon, Equestrian (cross country) were the most popular sports during the original ticket ballot.

What happens if LOCOG have given lots of tickets to sponsors for these popular events, leaving the British public to fight over just 50 per cent of the seats?

Conversely, the sports that are yet to sell out, such as 1.5m football tickets, may have 95 per cent of tickets available to the British public, as the sponsors will know they are not that popular. Cadbury will make more money running a competition for a 100m final ticket in the Olympic Stadium than they will for a football ticket for Uzbekistan v Papua New Guinea in Coventry.

I think that they are worried about the reaction if the British public knew the real figure of how many tickets they are actually eligible for and in what sports. That is what they have to hide and why they are keeping secrets.

See also:

London 2012: 200 days to drop DowBarry Gardiner MP, January 9th 2012

How the Olympics privatised your mouthAlex Hern, January 3rd 2012

A toxic cloud over London 2012Barry Gardiner MP, November 4th 2011

How we sold off the right to protest to the one per centAlex Hern, November 3rd 2011

Boris fiddles as London prepares for transport chaosAlex Hern, October 19th 2011

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