London Olympic Officials Face Questions Over Ticket Distribution

London politicians will question the organizers of the Olympics today about the lack of tickets available to the public for popular events including track and field finals.

“These were supposed to be the ‘people’s games’ but now we find out that only a third of the seats for the 100-meter final will be available for the public,” John Biggs, Olympics spokesman for the Labour party on the London Assembly, said in an e-mailed statement. “I find it offensive that only a third of the 80,000 tickets for this event will go to the public, with 59,000 going to corporate sponsors.”

Sebastian Coe, chairman of the London 2012 organizing committee, as well as its Chief Executive Officer Paul Deighton will appear today before the London Assembly, the 25-member elected body that investigates “issues that are important to the capital,” according to its website.

London Olympics organizers were criticized by U.K. consumer groups last year for the way the event’s 8.8 million tickets 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.

Last month, London mayor Boris Johnson called the Olympic ticket sale process “the cruel engine of disappointment” when he spoke to the London Assembly. He called for more transparency from organizers.

In a letter last month sent to Dee Doocey, chairwoman of the Economy, Culture and Sport Committee at the London Assembly, officials said the Games are “firmly committed to providing 75 percent of the total number of tickets to the British public, and if we deliver more than this, we will.”

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