As London’s 2012 Summer Olympics draw near — and after ticket resale problems at the last two Olympics — officials are taking a hard line stance against ticket resellers. The London Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) has already set its sights on resellers, or “touts” as they are known in the UK, threatening legal action and the closing of illegal resale Web sites.
In a recent meeting of National Olympic Committee delegates in Acapulco, Mexico, LOCOG Chairman Lord Sebastian Coe remarked, “The reputational damage for everyone across the board is huge if the tickets are on the black market and in the hands of touts. It is illegal to sell an Olympic ticket and we will enforce this rigorously.”
London’s Metropolitan Police are employing a special unit, Operation Podium, to go after the touts, and some of their resale sites have already been shut down. Other commercial sites are far from immune to the investigation’s reach, with Olympics officials already in conversation with sites like eBay about removing ticket listings from its pages.
LOCOG is addressing another resale issue from past games, namely that of athletes’ family and friends being defrauded by ticket scams and then unable to attend the games. This week, the International Olympic Committee announced that athletes will have access to one, or depending on the event, up to two tickets available for purchase by family or friends. The Committee is setting aside 70,000 tickets for this purpose, with these tickets then going on sale to the public should an athlete decline the offer. This decision followed a long investigation by Texas attorney Jim Moriarty, himself a victim of a scam when trying to purchase tickets for Beijing’s 2008 Summer Games, and his law firm, Moriarty Leyendecker.
“In 2008, the Chinese Olympic authorities essentially ignored the fraud problem. Two years later, in [Vancouver], the Canadian authorities ensured that their athletes had ticket access for their families. Now, the IOC finally can provide access to tickets to Olympian families of athletes – from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, and everywhere in between,” Moriarty said in a statement.
But the Committee’s warnings about resale don’t stop at the touts. As happened with the Vancouver 2010 Winter Games, LOCOG officials are determined to stop the resale of roughly one million tickets to be provided to National Olympic Committee members and other officials.
Chairman Coe claimed that computer programs designed to prevent bulk ticket orders, as well as the monitoring of tickets issued through the hospitality program, would be in place to help reduce the chances of ticket sale fraud for the 2012 Games.
To this end, the Committee plans to create a ticket exchange site similar to that set up by the Vancouver 2010 Committee, with one striking difference: London 2012 fans may not sell their tickets above face value. This plan virtually shuts out ticket resellers hoping to make a profit on the sale of their Olympic tickets.
As he explained to the delegates in attendance last week, “It is not allowed to sell an Olympic ticket for more than face value. It’s a very simple concept.”
In a still-struggling global economy, LOCOG also has plans to address the issue of wider accessibility for the 2012 Games. The Committee has announced a number of pricing plans intended to put attendance within reach for many, including children and seniors.
There are $32 tickets available for every sport, with 90 percent of all tickets going for $160 or less. For a number of non-premium Olympic sessions, those aged 16 and under will pay a ticket price which matches their age, with 16 year olds topping off at about $25. For these sessions, seniors’ tickets will also cost about $25.