London 2012 chairman Lord Coe has defended criticism of corporate ticket allocation after tour operators including Thomas Cook began selling Olympics tickets at significantly inflated prices.
Lord Coe said people must not be “coy or naive” about the funding provided by businesses that have been given tickets, and that corporate allocations accounted for only 8 percent of the total number of tickets available.
He said: “The corporates are responsible for about 8 percent of the tickets, the high end ticket packages are actually only 1 percent of tickets.”
Thomas Cook was allocated 300,000 tickets in return for a rumoured £20 million sponsorship deal of the games. The tour operator has now started selling packages ranging from £99 to £6,499.
A £99 package with the company ensures entry to see the volleyball at Earl’s Court plus a one-night stay in the two-star Ibis London Heathrow.
This rises to £3,299 for a deal that includes the entry to the blue riband 100m final and £6,499 for a three-day stay at the five-star Hyatt Regency Churchill Hotel and includes the closing ceremony.
But Coe argues that corporate funding is an essential part of hosting the games.
He told the BBC: “The corporates in large part pay for the Games, we shouldn’t be coy or naive about that. Twenty five per cent of the operating budget for the staging of the Games comes from ticket sales, and the corporates are probably collectively contributing about £1.5 billion to what we’re actually doing.”
He said organisers were obliged to give one million tickets to overseas federations, including football governing body Fifa.
He said: “A percentage of those tickets go to international federations and governing bodies. Fifa is an international federation. We are obliged to do that.”
The international allocation is not “out of perspective”, he said, and 75% of tickets will go to members of the public.
“We wanted to make sure people from all over the country could come,” he said. “If you’re coming down from the north-east or Scotland, it’s difficult to come down just for the day. So we wanted to make sure there were packages available with a hotel.”
More than half of the 1.8million who applied for tickets in the first round were left empty-handed as popular sports and cheaper tickets were heavily oversubscribed.
A second ballot will be held but more than 6 million of the 6.6 million tickets on sale directly to the public were included in the first round.
Details of the second round will be announced on or before June 24, and will be based on a first come basis.
Among the most popular one-night packages are athletics, gymnastics, volleyball, and water polo.
A quarter of all Olympic tickets – 2.2 million – have been reserved for the media, sponsors and various officials.