By Daniel Hunter
Unnecessary secrecy risks jeopardising public confidence in the ticketing arrangements for the 2012 Games, a new report from the London Assembly warns today (Thursday).
Sold Out?, is the result of a two-year-long campaign by the Assembly’s Economy, Culture and Sport (ECS) Committee to get answers from the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) about the ticketing process for the Games.
The report highlights LOCOG’s refusal to provide a detailed breakdown of how many tickets have been sold at what price for each event. LOCOG has previously indicated that around 28 per cent of the 8.8 million tickets would cost £20 or less, but refused to provide information to prove whether cheaper tickets were spread equally across all events, or concentrated in events like football, where supply exceeds demand.
LOCOG has been able to withhold information about ticket sales because its status as a private company makes it exempt from Freedom of Information requests. It has also claimed commercial confidentiality, but the Committee argues that this is unjustified when LOCOG is the sole provider of Games tickets and a previous Organising Committee has published the information.
The Committee has now written to the Olympic Board, which oversees LOCOG, to request the release of 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," Dee Doocey AM, Chair of the ECS Committee said.
“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.”
The 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outstanding questions over how 10,000 tickets to the synchronised swimming were sold accidentally and subsequently withdrawn, technical faults with the ticket resale website; and the number of disabled people taking up the offer of free tickets for carers.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 Committee has previously highlighted a number of positive steps LOCOG has taken to make the ticket process accessible and inclusive, specifically mentioning its decision to use a ballot and its original commitment to provide significant numbers of tickets at affordable prices, including discounted tickets for young people and free tickets for carers.
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