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Olympic Games 2012: Tickets

Volume 729: debated on Monday 4 July 2011


Asked By

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many Olympic tickets have been allocated without ballot and what organisations and individuals are to receive them.

My Lords, 2.2 million Olympic tickets—that is, one quarter of the total—are allocated separately from the UK public application process. Within that, 12 per cent are for purchase by the 205 national Olympic committees, 8 per cent are for purchase by sponsors and stakeholders—global and domestic—and 5 per cent are for purchase by the International Olympic Committee, international federations and other global sports bodies, international broadcast rights holders and prestige ticketing partners. This reflects the host city agreement signed with the IOC in 2005.

My Lords, in this instance, the Minister’s Answer makes the whole thing sound even worse than I thought. She will be aware that there is an enormous sense of unfairness among people in this country about the way the tickets have been allocated. Will she confirm that the DCMS is getting 8,815 tickets? I put it to her that the best way of allocating tickets would have been to give every applicant two tickets before multiple applications were dealt with?

My Lords, the government allocation is 8,815 tickets, which is 0.1 per cent of the tickets available. I will not go into the detail of how that breaks down at the moment. On the allocation of the tickets, no one had ever before attempted to sell 3 million tickets at one go. Trying to weight applications would have added a layer of complexity which would have made the whole thing almost impossible. LOCOG had no way of knowing how many applications would come in, so it followed other rules rather than the weighting one.

My Lords, while all of us associated with the London Games have, I believe, the humility to recognise that public expectation setting regarding tickets was unduly high and that lessons can be learnt, would the Minister nevertheless agree that it is welcome news that the British Olympic Association has secured the right to buy two tickets for every living British Olympian for their own sport and two further tickets for other sports and that many volunteers will benefit from the decision of Olympic governing bodies of sport to use a substantial part of their allocations for athletes, families, friends, supporters and, above, all volunteers?

I entirely agree with my noble friend. It is good that the tickets are being spread as widely as they are and that former Olympians have been included in that. Of course, we recognise the disappointment for those who did not get tickets, but there will be plenty of other activities going on over Olympic week, and the Paralympic tickets have yet to come on stream. We hope that everybody will be able to participate.

My Lords, particular concerns have been expressed about these Games in relation to the immediate families of the participating sports men and women. I have personal experience of the distress that this causes to the mothers and fathers of active Olympians from the UK who, having perhaps sacrificed an incredible amount in their lifetimes to ensure that their son’s or daughter’s ambitions can be realised, cannot then watch them participate. Would the Government consider encouraging public bodies and corporate sponsors, which have so many tickets, to share some of their allocation with those immediate families to ensure that they have the benefit of seeing the result of all those years of sacrifice?

Indeed, I entirely agree with the noble Lord’s idea, which sounds an excellent system for those who have not already managed to get tickets through another method. Having families and friends around is of key importance to people who have done so much hard work to try to get themselves to Olympic standard.

My Lords, I have just read a leading article in the Sunday press which makes it clear that, from the leader writer’s point of view, never have tickets for an Olympic Games been spread and given out so well and never has an Olympic Games had all the tickets sold out a year in advance. Nor could the journalist could remember a more democratic process for delivering tickets to the Olympic Games and all the different sports in any recent Games. I believe that the way that LOCOG has set about this this year is absolutely super. I hope the Minister agrees and will tell me that she has read the article. If she has not, I hope she will.

My Lords, I have read the article. I agree that Britain should be proud of what LOCOG has done with ticketing.

My Lords, 1 million fans applied for tickets and were disappointed that they failed to get them. At the same time, local authorities have each had 100 tickets for the 100 metres final, the diving finals, the cycling finals, and the opening address. Does the Minister agree that this surely goes against the spirit of Olympic fairness?

My Lords, there have been allocations to local authorities, certainly to those surrounding the Games and those that have been most involved with them. The allocation of the tickets has been done in the fairest way possible given the numbers and the interest in them. With regard to the opening ceremony, the Government actually have 212 tickets, which out of a capacity of 80,000 is probably not too extravagant.

My Lords, the noble Baroness was kind enough to say that she thought my noble friend’s idea about trying to ensure that parents are able to see their children compete was a good one. Can she assure the House that Ministers will now take active steps to do everything they can to ensure that my noble friend’s idea is actually acted upon—not just a good idea but one that Ministers will carry forward?

My Lords, Ministers are not actually involved with the allocation of tickets, which is a matter for LOCOG. All we can do is advise that there are some people who perhaps are more worthy of tickets than others, but beyond that we have to leave it to LOCOG to do the allocations.