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London Olympics Criticized for ‘Obsessive Secrecy’ Over Tickets

London Olympics organizers were criticized for “obsessive secrecy” after declining to give local politicians a breakdown of the number of tickets sold at what price until the Games are over.

The London organizing committee, or Locog, has sold 7 million tickets for the Olympic and Paralympic Games, with another 4 million tickets left to sell before the July 27 opening ceremony.

“Locog is doing a superb job, and I believe you will run the best Games we’ve ever had,” Dee Doocey, chairwoman of the London Assembly’s Economy, Culture and Sport Committee, told local organizers who were questioned today by the Assembly. “But I am endlessly frustrated at this obsessive secrecy surrounding the amount of tickets you’ve sold.”

Locog would be giving out “incomplete numbers” if it published the information at this stage partly because 11 temporary Games venues for sports including fencing and volleyball still had to be built, Chairman Sebastian Coe told the Assembly.

“It’s a complicated process, one of perpetual motion,” Coe said. He said Locog would disclose the sales process once the Games are over.

Doocey, a Liberal Democrat, went on to say that the organizer’s refusal to provide a detailed breakdown of the Olympic ticket distribution until after the Games was “shameful” and that there was “no reason at all” why it couldn’t do so now.

Proof

“I can’t prove to you we are making our commitments because it depends on what we sell in the entirety but I can confirm there will be 2.5 million tickets at 20 pounds ($31) or under,” Locog Chief Executive Officer Paul Deighton told the Assembly.

Locog had not “indulged in what airlines would call yield management,” Deighton said. “The demand has been incredible. But we are not pushing the prices up.”

Deighton and Coe, a former middle distance double Olympic champion, refuted a statement by John Biggs, Olympics spokesman for the Labour party on the Assembly, that only 36 percent of the 80,000 Olympic stadium seats for the 100-meter final would end up in the hands of the British public.

After seating for the media, athletes, and international Olympic executives, only 58,500 tickets will be available for the track and field event, Deighton said. Two giant television screens block about 3,000 seats that won’t be sold, he said.

Ticket Sales

Local organizers were criticized by U.K. consumer groups last year for the way the 8.8 million tickets available were sold. Only 700,000 people were successful in a first-round public ballot, with 1.2 million missing out. Another sale allowed some of those to subsequently gain tickets. Organizers are selling about 8 percent of the total ticket allocation to sponsors.

In January, Games officials said a “human error” was to blame for selling 10,000 tickets too many for the synchronized swimming competition. Some 3,000 people have been contacted and offered tickets for different sports, including swimming and athletics. Shortly after, the London 2012 ticket resale website was suspended for eleven days because of computer issues.

To contact the reporter on this story: Danielle Rossingh in London at drossingh@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chris Elser at celser@bloomberg.net

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