Olympic Tickets: Fraught With Controversy and, Well, Fraud

Of course God has an iPhone

Of course God has an iPhone.

Now, I don’t have tickets to the Olympics. I have no opinion on this, except to say that it is endlessly tiring to watch sports in real time when you are a short person (which I am). I mean, sometimes you’ll want to just sit down because your body is aching from trying to stretch your shortness to see over the 6 foot guy in front of you, but then when you do sit down everyone starts screaming over something they can see and you pop up again to look but then you remember you can’t actually see anything.

Wait, what was I discussing? Oh right: tickets.

Tumblr is filled with pictures of tickets from happy would-be spectators.

Olympic Tickets!

A lot of people on Tumblr use Instagram.

However, the problem with the tickets is that LOCOG decided to play hard to get. According to James Pearce at the BBC in May, the tickets are in danger of not being sold out.

Last year there were an astonishing 22 million applications in the first round ballot for the 6.6 million tickets available to the British public….

Fast forward a year and the story is very different.

Basically, after holding on to several rounds of tickets, almost a million tickets remained unsold two months before the Games. This decline in excitement could be a number of reasons: it’s too late to book a hotel, the prices are too high, etc. Fellow Fan Olly Offord spoke about his personal frustrations with the ticket process:

Weren’t we told that all sessions were oversubscribed a year ago? Why has the system put so many people off. Only 150,000 of the 1.2million people disappointed in the first round bothered to try again. That is some serious disaffection.

…My problem on Wednesday, when the tickets went back on sale, was the waiting and the system which allowed you to put tickets in your basket that no longer existed, and it’s only 30mins later that they tell you that deflating fact.

The other reason was the price. I’ve tried to enter into a few European ticket releases, but have had to stop dead when I see what they want to charge.

The most oversubscribed event in the initial ballot was … the Men’s 100m, duh. But there are still tickets available for the one event that is likely to grip the whole nation. Who doesn’t want to go? The only snag, they cost £4,500 a pop.

With that kind of exclusivity, is it any wonder that most people are starting to distrust that this is an Olympics we can all get involved in?

Then yesterday the LOCOG decided to really annoy British fans by having the tickets “distributed on an internal sales system to sponsors.” Though they promised 75% of the leftover tickets would eventually go to fans.

Hearing this news, the BBC asked fans who they thought deserved the tickets:

“I think it is fair that the sponsors were given tickets because without them the London Olympics wouldn’t be as good. However, I think the majority of tickets should be sold to the public and a small number to the sponsoring companies.”

Sasha, Swansea, Wales

“I think unsold tickets should go to soldiers who have come back from places like Iran as they deserve it the most not companies.”

Leah, Southampton, England

“I think I should have one because I have tried millions of times.”

Bob, Shropshire, England

“I think that they should donate some to orphans and homeless children who would love to go because they would never be able to afford them!”

Penelope, Blackburn, England

“I think people who give their lives to sport should get ticket and half price.”

Lara, Ireland

“I think the Olympic tickets should be given to the Beavers/Brownies/Cubs and the Girl Guides. Other countries have their children involved in major sporting events and I think we should also be given this opportunity.”

Alice, Bedfordshire, England

“I think that they should go to the Queen and she should select as many tickets that are left and give them to members of the public that have done something good or have been through hard times.”

Angelia, Northamptonshire, England

Add this to the scandal of tickets being resold on the black market by national committees! Which, even though the British public is expected to get all its tickets and the IOC and LOCOG are not at fault, is still really frustrating for the people who were hoping to watch the Games:

Many of those who have struggled to secure tickets for the biggest events and already feel ill disposed towards what they see as preferential treatment for sponsors and blazers will see this as yet more evidence for the prosecution.

The timing is less than ideal for London organisers, just as they were hoping to capitalise on the groundswell of goodwill created across the country by the torch relay and the looming excitement of the sporting spectacle. They hoped that growing buzz would translate into an acceleration in sales for almost 2m remaining tickets for football and high-priced options for less popular sports and drown out complaints over sponsors, Games lanes and selection controversies.