MPs criticise ticket availability for Olympic Games

10:58 19 April 2013

Picture: Anna Gowthorpe/ PA Wire

Picture: Anna Gowthorpe/ PA Wire

PA Wire/Press Association Images

The number of seats made available to the public for the most popular events at the London 2012 Olympics has been criticised by MPs.

A report by the Public Accounts Committee also highlighted a “large number” of empty accredited seats that had been reserved for the Olympic family, athletes and media organisations.

The MPs say governments should challenge the demands by sporting organisations to have so many accredited seats at major events.

The report says: “During the Games a large number of accredited seats went unused at events for which the public demand for tickets could not be met, and it is a shame that so few tickets for popular events were available to the UK public.

“For example, only 51 per cent of tickets for the men’s 100 metres final were available to the UK public and only 47 per cent of tickets for the track cycling.

“International sports bodies and media organisations wield a lot of power and it cannot be easy for individual event organisers to push back at their demands.

“But, learning from the experience of the London Games, the government, possibly alongside other governments and event organisers, should challenge demands for large numbers of accredited seats.”

London 2012 organisers had told the MPs they had sought to reduce the amount of accredited seating set aside and that the problem with empty seats was largely resolved after the first few days.

Out of around 1.5million accredited seats, London 2012 released 90,000 for sale, as well as giving away several thousand more to schoolchildren.

Committee chair Margaret Hodge added that there were other lessons to be learned from an “extraordinarily successful” London Olympics.

She said: “A mood of confidence and pride swept the nation -and a feeling that this country can get big projects right.

“Invaluable experience and skills were acquired in putting on the Games. We hope that the lessons learnt from this success will be applied to future major public sector projects.

“Equally the public sector must learn from things that went wrong, like venue security and the availability of tickets for the general public.”

Hodge said the one “notable blemish” on planning for the Games was venue security, where costs were “vastly underestimated” and then private firm G4S was unable to fulfil its contract to provide the necessary staff.

“Thankfully, the armed forces and police were ready and able to step in - we acknowledge their very impressive ability to do so at short notice, and the huge contribution they made to the successful security operation, which passed off without any major problems,” said Hodge.

The report also welcomes the fact the venues were built on time and under budget - the £9.298billion public sector funding package is set to be underspent.

Hodge warned that the government must now concentrate on delivering the legacy of the Olympics - and prevent the volunteering spirit “fizzling out”.

She added: “We all want the momentum of the Games to be maintained. They need to be shown as having longer-term consequences for this country. The legacy programme is therefore crucial and must be delivered in full.

“A lot of organisations, central and local, have responsibilities for the many individual projects making up the legacy programme, in such areas as business, tourism and increased sports participation. We expect the Cabinet Office to exercise strong leadership, co-ordinating all of this diffuse effort and ensuring the legacy as a whole is being achieved.”

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