Losing out on tickets might be for the best

Approximately two million British people applied for tickets to the much-promoted London Olympics. The vast majority were left disappointed.

Antony Barnett investigates
Antony Barnett investigates

Olympic Tickets For Sale: A Dispatches Special

Channel 4

Approximately two million British people applied for tickets to the much-promoted London Olympics. The vast majority were left disappointed.

So who got the bulk of the 8.8 million tickets on offer?

Well, you’ll never guess what? It appears if you’ve got the money then, yes, you can go to watch some of the world’s elite sportsmen and women perform at this summer’s biggest sporting event.

Was Antony Barnett’s report supposed to enrage? Anyone who was shocked by this documentary wants there head looking at. As with any massive sporting event, there will be winners and losers – and not just in the sparkling new stadiums dotted around the capital.

As the taxpayer foots the bill for this £9 billion Olympics, where are these tickets going?

A strange ballot system, designed by organising body LOCOG, invited people to apply for the right to buy tickets to various events.

Around 55 per cent of people came away without tickets.

One-time Olympic hero, turned Conservative politician, lord Seb Coe is largely responsible for London’s successful bid with the International Olympic committee. At the launch of the Olympic ticket ballot, Seb talked of 75 per cent of tickets being available at affordable prices to the general public. Realistically, this becomes 36 per cent for spectacles such as the opening ceremony or 100m men’s finals.

Even so, with around 8.8 million tickets being made available, you would think more people would have been successful in their bid.

Many of these missing tickets were swallowed up by companies packaging them as hospitality deals. These private companies will make millions.

One such company, Prestige Ticketing, has packages costing up to £4,500 per person for accommodation and tickets.

Another, Jet Set Travel, whose head office appears to be a laughable post office box in a backwater American town, offers VIP tickets to the opening event for around £3,200.

Even High Street giant Thomas Cook isn’t immune from this scandalous behaviour. If you’ve got £20,000 to throw away, the holiday company can fix you up with a six day package, including top seats for the 100m final, accommodation, food and transport.

Olympic lanes – exclusive parts of the London road network – will be closed to general use, with only official Olympic vehicles allowed to use them.

Yes, these are intended to commute the competitors, and all involved in putting on a good games, from venue to venue. It is intended for essential users.

And again, if you carry the right plastic then you can jump on the Olympic bandwagon.

But, come on. Is anyone really surprised about this? I’m not. And I doubt you are.

Flat as the athletics circuit, the documentary was as sterile as the needles that will be used to take blood samples for the random drugs tests at the games.

One glimmer of humanity came in the form of Denis Clayton.

This colourful character, residing on a caravan park in Poynton, Cheshire, has attended every Olympic games since 1960. Every one. He has never had a problem getting hold of tickets for the event. And could he get tickets to see the games in his own country? Not a single one.

Obviously gutted by his failure in getting his hands on a ticket, Denis will have to do the same as the rest of the nation –- watch it on the telly in the comfort of his own home. Now that’s what I call the best seat in the house.

Watch Olympics Tickets For Sale: A Dispatches Special on 4od

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