30 Jul 2012

Spare Olympic tickets to go back on sale

Locog is now monitoring the number of tickets used after an abundance of empty seats at the weekend, and will put returned tickets on sale the night before events.

The Olympics organising committee was criticised after spectators pointed out empty seats at some events that had been billed as “sold out”.

Locog said an extra 3,000 tickets went on sale on Sunday night after they were returned by sports federations and accredited groups who were not intending to use them. Around 600 of those tickets were for Monday’s gymnastics events, 700 for beach volleyball, and the remainder for swimming, equestrian and handball. All were snapped up by Monday morning.

Prime Minster David Cameron said the empty seats were “disappointing” and London Mayor Boris Johnson said there had been discussion on “how to crack the ticketing problem” when ministers met in the Cabinet Office this morning.

We’re doing this session by session talking to accredited groups…and asking whether we can release [tickets], for the different sessions, back into the public pot. Where we can, we’re going to release those the night before and put them up for sale. Jackie Brock-Doyle, Locog

Speaking on Monday, Locog’s Jackie Brock-Doyle said it was approaching the issue of ticket sales on a “case by case basis”, and was in close contact with accredited groups – such as the media – and sports federations to find out how many tickets would not be used the following day.

“We’re doing this session by session talking to accredited groups…and asking whether we can release [tickets], for the different sessions, back into the public pot,” she said. “Where we can, we’re going to release those the night before and put them up for sale.”

But she added that ticket selling is “not an exact science”, pointing out that seats at Sunday’s basketball and swimming events were completely filled.

IOC vice-president Sir Craig Reedie told Channel 4 News that so many empty seats were not anticipated. “We knew there was a risk, but we didn’t know we would be under attack from an accredited seating basis,” he said.

Sir Craig added that the high demand for Olympic tickets in London was a positive thing and that most venues had so far been filled with “happy paying spectators.”

Ticket sales: who gets what

Seventy-five per cent of Olympic tickets were made available to the public. Of the remaining 25 per cent, 8 per cent were made available to sponsors, 12 per cent to the National Olympic Committees and 5 per cent to the so-called Olympic family, which includes accredited groups like the media and IOC officials.

The empty seats visible at the weekend were a result of people from a range of these different groups not using their tickets, said the IOC’s Mark Adams over the weekend. Locog also said that accredited seating allocation for the London 2012 Games is down 15 per cent compared to Beijing.

But according to the Daily Telegraph, there are 120,000 unsold tickets allocated to foreign countries which have not been returned. Of these, around 50,000 are being held back by foreign agencies hoping to sell the tickets at inflated prices.

In pictures: Spot the empty seats at London 2012 so far

Olympic transport tested

Meanwhile the anticipated travel chaos on the first Monday morning of the Olympic Games, with an extra one million visitors in London, was largely avoided. Mr Johnson said that organisers had been able to “turn off” a lot of the Games lanes because so many people had opted to use public transport.

“We’re pleased with the way it’s working so far, everybody at London Bridge was working well, the Tube is working well, the ORN,” he said. “It turns out a lot of the Olympic bureaucrat types who could go in the Games lanes, the T3 people as they’re called, are using public transport.”

However in Wembley, the Games organisation did not go off to such a good start – officers searching the venue ahead of the Games misplaced a set of keys, prompting an investigation by Scotland Yard. Relevant locks have been changed and officers stressed that the keys were internal. A spokeswoman added: “There is absolutely no security concern in relation to the stadium.”

Seats for troops

About 50 seats previously classed as restricted view and unoccupied during the first two days of the badminton at Wembley Arena, were on Monday filled by members of the RAF and Army security teams. The MoD thanked London 2012 organisers after troops were offered tickets when they were off-duty to stop the venues looking empty. An additional 3,500 troops were drafted in at short notice after G4S failed to recruit and deploy enough security staff in time.

For some sporting events, the “security bubble” makes it more difficult to sell tickets at short notice, said Ms Brock-Doyle, and these tickets will be given to troops, students and teachers.

Kate Hoey, MP for Vauxhall in south London and Labour’s former sports minister, said she was glad that solutions were being found. “There are definitely lots of really, really good community sports clubs all over London, very, very near, with great people who, at the drop of a hat, could get their youngsters there and those youngsters are people who would never, ever have got a ticket,” she told BBC Radio.

“I think what they have done is probably allocated too many to each international Olympic committee and that could be changed pretty quickly.”