Despite ticket prices for the London Olympics not having been announced yet, there are growing concerns about the ticket cost, and specifically British fans’ ability to afford tickets, in light of the UK’s new austerity plan.
The plan includes 25 percent spending cuts across all areas except health and international aid, as well as various tax hikes, including a 2.5 percent increase in the Value Added Tax (VAT). All together, this budget will potentially reduce the disposable income which British Olympic fans intend to use to purchase tickets to the Games.
Still, Lord Sebastian Coe, Chairman of the London Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG), is optimistic that the country’s fans will find their way to the games. In a recent quote in London’s Daily Telegraph, Lord Coe expressed confidence that Olympic tickets, going on sale early next year, will be met with high demand: “We are very confident that with the ticket sign up we had a few months ago and going forward what we have been able to do regarding price and structure of the events, there will be a very big appetite”.
According to Graham Burns, chairman of the Association of Secondary Ticket Agents in the UK, strong ticket sales for the 2012 Games are a certainty, due to the unique nature of the Games themselves.
“People will buy [tickets to the Games] no matter what. It is a global event, and people will be coming from around the world, so a 2.5 percent increase (in the VAT) is not going to be an issue,” Burns told TicketNews.
However, Coe added that multiple factors will determine the success of Olympics ticket sales, including the economic climate for potential buyers. In addition, with no word yet on the exact price of tickets, LOCOG’s ability to meet the needs of financially stressed consumers has yet to be proven.
Burns’ concerns regarding London 2012 center primarily on disreputable brokers giving a black eye to England’s secondary ticketing industry. In 2008, alleged disreputable brokers in the UK ran ticket scams that reportedly victimized dozens of fans, and there were problems with secondary ticket sales at the recent Vancouver Winter Olympics.
“What we need to do is separate out the real brokers from the crooks, because if we don’t, secondary ticketing in the UK will be at risk,” Burns said.
In May, Great Britain’s new coalition government announced £27 million ($39.5 million) in cuts to LOCOG’s partner, the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA). The ODA is responsible for the construction of Olympic venues and developing the necessary infrastructure for the Games. The decision to reduce ODA’s budget came in direct contradiction to the previous government’s assurances that the Olympics budget would not be touched.
Cuts are expected to be managed through administrative cost-cutting and streamlining functions. At the time these reductions were announced, government officials insisted that they posed no danger to the UK’s presentation of a successful Olympics.
Following a progress report by Coe and LOCOG’s Chief Executive Paul Deighton at this week’s International Olympic Committee (IOC) Executive Board meeting, IOC President Jacques Rogge also expressed confidence that the £27 million in cuts will not compromise the integrity or success of the upcoming Games.
Earlier this month, however, England’s Sports Minister, Hugh Robertson, remarked that the Games may be at risk for further cuts down the road because of the nation’s ongoing economic difficulties.