Lifestyle & Belief

London Olympic committee investigates alleged black market ticket sales


Sebastian Coe, London 2012 Chairman, poses for pictures at the Olympic Stadium in Stratford, east London, on March 15, 2011.



Dozens of officials and agents for the London Olympics have been filmed selling tickets on the black market, according to a UK newspaper.

The International Olympic Committee has launched an investigation after reporters for the Sunday Times reportedly filmed encounters with agents agreeing to sell London 2012 tickets allocated to them.

More than a million tickets were distributed to those taking part in the Games, which begin July 21. The tickets in question were allocated to national Olympic committees and were for top events.

The Sunday Times alleged that during a two-month investigation in which reporters posed as Middle Eastern ticket touts, it found corruption involving people representing 54 separate countries.

Some undercover reporters were asked to pay up to 10 times the value of the tickets.

National Olympic Committees (NOCs) and Authorized Ticket Resellers (ATRs) allegedly also broke the rules by buying and selling tickets outside their territories.

According to the Associated Press, IOC rules forbid national committees from selling tickets abroad, or for inflated ticket prices, or selling tickets to unauthorized resellers.

Britons have been frustrated that they couldn't buy tickets to the event — which is costing the taxpayer $14.6 billion — the AP wrote.

The IOC has reportedly referred the allegations to its independent ethics commission, according to Channel 4.

"After claims that several NOCs [National Olympic Committees] and ATRs [authorized ticket resellers] were reportedly willing to break the rules by offering to buy or sell tickets outside their territory, sell tickets at inflated prices, or sell tickets to unauthorized resellers, the IOC has ordered an immediate inquiry and referred the allegations to its independent ethics commission," it said, the Guardian reported.

"The IOC takes these allegations very seriously and has immediately taken the first steps to investigate. Should any irregularities be proven, the organization will deal with those involved in an appropriate manner. The NOCs are autonomous organizations, but if any of the cases are confirmed the IOC will not hesitate to impose the strongest sanctions."

The president of the Greek Olympic Committee, Spyros Capralos, also reportedly claimed that he had persuaded the chairman of the London Organizing Committee ("Locog"), Sebastian Coe, to hand over extra tickets to Greece, by claiming demand outstripped supply

He then suggested that if the tickets were sold outside Greece, he would turn a blind eye.

"As long as I [do] not hear anything you can do whatever you like," he allegedly said.

The paper reportedly posted videos of its reporters negotiating with Capralos and agents including official ticket agents in Serbia, Lithuania and China, who offered to sell the them premium tickets for up to $9,407 each.

The London organizing committee — chaired by former Olympic gold medalist Sebastian Coe — has denied the claims.

Locog officials said in a statement that Lord Coe did not discuss extra ticket allocations with Capralos.

"With regard to 'boasts' by the Greek Olympic Committee (HOC) that discussions on tickets took place with Sebastian Coe we can confirm this is untrue," London's Daily Telegraph quoted a Locog statement as saying.

"Seb received a letter from the HOC (as he did from other NOCs) and responded saying that tickets had been allocated in accordance with the IOC's ticketing policy. There was no further contact – either formal or informal – on this subject." 

They allegations follow the resignation last month of a senior Ukrainian official who was filmed by the BBC offering tickets for cash.

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