Sat, Jun 04, 2011 - Page 18 News List

Mass upset as fans miss out on Olympics tickets

The Guardian, LONDON

London Olympic organizers face a growing backlash from hundreds of thousands of sports fans who woke up on Wednesday to find they were ticketless, despite some bidding thousands of pounds for tickets.

Even London Mayor Boris Johnson failed to secure any tickets from his personal application, but said it proved that the process was fair.

“I am proud to be British. No other country or culture in the world would have a situation where the mayor of the host city goes into a ballot for tickets for his family and gets rejected,” he said.

However, others were crying foul. The controversial ballot, held after 20 million people applied for the 6 million tickets, was criticized for effectively favoring wealthier buyers who could afford to make multiple bids.

Among those left empty-handed were Frances Jauch, a primary school teacher. She applied for tickets to the hockey qualifiers and gymnastics, while her boyfriend applied for badminton and table tennis — a total of US$260 worth of tickets.

“I thought we were quite a safe bet with hockey and table tennis. We went for two US$32 tickets, as we didn’t want to risk overspending and we don’t live in London,” said Jauch, 27, from Cheltenham, England. “I am really disappointed not to have been given a single ticket, particularly when some people have received tickets to multiple events. Also, the hockey is undersubscribed, so I can’t understand why I wasn’t even lucky enough to get one [ticket].”

Jauch, a former county-level hockey player, added: “If [London Organising Committee chairman] Lord [Sebastian] Coe’s aim was to bring sport and the Olympics to as many people as possible and to inspire them to take part in sport, then he has failed dismally. I am a primary teacher in a school in a disadvantaged area and few, if any, of these children will have access to the Games.”

However, one man picked up almost US$18,000 worth of tickets after bidding on a total of US$59,000. Stephen Hunt, an insolvency practitioner, said he had surpassed his credit limit and initially did not have the available funds to pay for the tickets, but has since increased his card’s credit limit so he can go ahead.

“I’d rather scrimp and save for a bit extra rather than be disappointed and I’ve seen so many people who have bid a relatively normal amount of money and not been successful,” he told BBC Radio.

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