Members of sports clubs are likely to have first call on tickets to the London 2012 Olympics as part of a plan by organisers to boost participation across the country.
A key element of the ticketing strategy being drawn up by Locog, the organising committee of the London games, will be the distribution of tickets to club members in an attempt to provide an incentive to take part in sport regularly.
The chairman of Locog, Lord Coe, told MPs on the culture, media and sport select committee that it could be a “serious message” that if you want to watch the Olympics you need to join a sports club now.
“If you look at the participation commitments [London has made to the International Olympic Committee], it is clearly important these tickets go to the right people,” Coe said later. “That means making sure they get to supporters clubs is very important to our ticketing strategy and is part of what we are looking at.”
He said organisers were examining the way tickets for Wimbledon and England rugby internationals were distributed through local tennis and rugby clubs across the country.
The move would have the additional effect of helping ensure a knowledgable and enthusiastic crowd at London’s Olympic events, following criticism that some crowds in Beijing were rather thin and detracted from the atmosphere in the stadium and on television. But it could also prove controversial. The Lawn Tennis Association, in particular, periodically comes under fire for perpetuating elitism in the sport by distributing Wimbledon tickets through clubs rather than more widely.
The Locog chief executive, Paul Deighton, said that making sure tickets got into the right hands would also guard against touting.
Although it is illegal to resell Olympics tickets for profit, it has always posed a problem at previous games.
However, the price of tickets may be higher than originally claimed. Deighton, a former Goldman Sachs banker, rowed back on a promise made three years ago that half of all tickets for events would cost £20 or under. Under questioning by Conservative MP Nigel Evans, he said that the removal of softball and baseball from the Olympics meant 700,000 fewer cheap tickets, and that more cash must be generated by those remaining.
“What we will commit to is millions of tickets within that affordable range … Our objectives are to make millions of tickets broadly available at prices people can afford,” he said.
The organisers also unveiled plans for a “ticket exchange” that would allow spectators to resell tickets at face value if they were no longer able to attend. “If people leave early, we’ll have some technology in place that will quickly scan the ticket and resell it. It might say ‘If you turn up at x, y, z in five minutes, there’s a fencing ticket for you’,” said Deighton. The final ticketing strategy will be published in 2010.
Source: The Guardian