Libya will not be given tickets to the London 2012 Olympic Games, despite organisers saying earlier that it had been allocated several hundred.
On Wednesday morning, it was revealed that Libya’s National Olympic Committee (NOC) had applied for – and been given – “a few hundred” passes to the event. A London 2012 spokeswoman said: “The Libyan NOC, not an individual, has been allocated a few hundred tickets which they are responsible for distributing to sports organisations and athletes within their country.”
But the governing body was quick to point out that Col Muammar Gaddafi would not be allowed to travel to the Games because he is under an international travel ban and arrest warrant.
The International Olympic Committee said an NOC would only be excluded from ticket allocations if it was “not able to function any more because of government interference”.
It quoted a senior government source as saying: “There is consternation about the fact that country teams are entitled to invite their heads of state, meaning that Gaddafi, whom we are desperately trying to bomb into oblivion, could try to disrupt the Games.”
And Prime Minister David Cameron‘s official spokesman said it was “a decision for the IOC, not for us” what tickets were allocated to Libya.
There is consternation about the fact that country teams are entitled to invite their heads of state, meaning Gaddafi could try to disrupt the Games. Government spokesman
“The fact is that Gaddafi, his family and key members of that regime are subject to a travel ban and won’t be allowed to travel here to the Olympics in any event,” said the spokesman.
Later, though, a spokeman said that the IOC would not give any tickets to Libya “until the current situation becomes clearer,” before IOC president Jacques Rogge completed the U-turn by stating that Libya would in fact receive “no tickets” for the Games “for as long as situation continues”.
Britain is currently part of Nato military action against Libya. Around one million of the total 8.8 million tickets available to the London Games have been allocated to federations in foreign countries. Zimbabwe and Burma, two other pariahs in the international community, have received tickets.
Col Gaddafi’s son, Muhammad al-Gaddafi, has long been head of the country’s Olympic committee and would in all likelihood have distributed tickets to members and friends of the Libyan regime.