June 17 – The International Olympic Committee (IOC) had to call an emergency meeting Saturday of the executive board to discuss allegations brought to light by the London daily newspaper The Sunday Times that officials linked to 54 countries had sold tickets illegally on the black market.
According to the IOC website there are 204 national Olympic committees (NOCs) in the world so this amounts to over a fourth of them. Ticket scalping has long been an issue for precious Games’ tickets but a breach of this proportion is something new.
According to the paper journalists posing as Middle Eastern buyers entered into negotiations. Thousands of tickets were on the market for up to 10 times face value and included the most watched events such as the opening and closing ceremonies.
National ticket sellers are bound by law to only sell tickets within national boundaries and The Telegraph lists a number of instances:
* Serbia’s official ticket reseller was prepared to sell 1,300 prime tickets for £80,000 to a Middle East buyer and attempted to circumvent scrutiny from the IOC or Locog by falsifying information from 1,400 Serbian passports;
* China’s official ticket reseller, Caissa, had purchased top-level seats to the Opening and Closing ceremonies, diving, gymnastics and athletics from the official UK hospitality reseller Thomas Cook, which it was prepared to sell on at inflated prices of more than £6,000 each;
* Cyprus and Israel’s ticket reseller was offering 525 seats at the best events for £66,000;
* The Lithuanian ticket reseller was willing to sell all of the country’s remaining tickets to a Middle East buyer; and
* An executive from one major ticket reseller in multiple countries, Cartan Tours, advised a prospective buyer to set up a company in one of the 40 territories in which he has the right to sell tickets.
The IOC has issued a statement:
“The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has moved quickly to deal with allegations that some National Olympic Committees (NOC) and Authorised Ticket Resellers (ATR) have broken rules relating to the sale of Olympic tickets.
“The IOC takes these allegations very seriously and has immediately taken the first steps to investigate.
“Should any irregularities be proven, the organisation will deal with those involved in an appropriate manner.
“The NOCs are autonomous organisations, but if any of the cases are confirmed the IOC will not hesitate to impose the strongest sanctions.
“The IOC has also determined that it will take on board any recommendations coming out of the inquiry to improve the way that tickets are allocated and sold internationally in the future.”
By Laura Walden