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Lessons must be learned over 2012 Games to ensure more affordable tickets for future events

24 April 2013

No-one was able to buy a ticket for Olympic athletics, track cycling or swimming medal sessions for less than £50[1], the London Assembly said today as it called for lessons to be learned from the 2012 Games for future sporting events.

The Assembly’s new report The Price of Gold [2] also highlights how

  • the average price to see Mo Farah win gold in the men’s 5,000 metres was £333
  • 58 per cent of people who bought a ticket for the Men’s 100m final paid more than £294 each
  • the average price of watching Tom Daley win bronze in the 10m platform diving final was £203
  • fewer than half of tickets for Olympic track cycling were allocated to the UK public[3]

With London hosting or bidding to host several major sporting events in the next five years[4], the report sets out recommendations for the Mayor, government and sporting bodies to ensure that tickets are available and affordable for ordinary people for future championships held in the capital.

The Economy Committee also plans to share the findings of its report with the organisers of the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi and the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Rio.

Andrew Dismore AM, Chair of the Economy Committee, said: “The 2012 Games were a fantastic spectacle and London should be proud of staging a hugely successful Olympics and Paralympic Games.

“However, for many ordinary people, the lack of available affordable tickets for certain sessions meant there was little chance of them being in the crowd to see their sporting heroes win gold. Given that ticket sales massively exceeded their target, this was a missed opportunity to reward those taxpayers who funded the Games and inspire a generation to participate in sport.

“We must learn the lessons from London Olympics and Paralympics if we are to host future sporting championships successfully and build on the amazing public support and goodwill demonstrated during the summer of 2012.”

The report’s recommendations to organisers of future major sporting events include:

  • Ensuring ticketing arrangements are much more transparent, with details of tickets within each price category published in advance for each session
  • Using a more consistent approach to pricing, including a pledge on the minimum number of affordable tickets for medal sessions and use specific price bands not varying categories.
  • Allocating a minimum proportion of public tickets for each session
  • Using a ballot to allocate tickets but limit customers initially to a maximum number of tickets

The London Organising Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) met its overall pledge that at least 75 per cent of all Games tickets would be sold to the UK public, but there was huge variation between different sports and sessions.

For example, in swimming medal sessions just 45 per cent of tickets in the 17,500 capacity Aquatic Centre went to the public. The rest went to client groups, including sponsors, public from overseas, the International Olympic Committee, media, competitors and their families.

Overall 11 million tickets were sold to the Games and LOCOG exceeded its ticket sales target by 32 per cent.[4] The Committee says this is a significant achievement but also suggests LOCOG could have made many more affordable tickets available and still met its target.

There were 1.9 million applicants in the first round of ticket sales for the 2012 Games and by the end of the second round fewer than half had successfully bought tickets. The report says this was due to several factors – in particular the relatively small proportion of public tickets for some sessions and the extremely high prices. The process was also likely to have excluded people and its lack of transparency also affected public trust.

The report praises steps LOCOG took to make tickets affordable for disadvantaged groups, such as the “Pay your Age” scheme for children for some sessions, £16 tickets for the over 60s, the lack of a booking fee and the provision of free companion seats for spectators in wheelchairs.

LOCOG also met its promise to evenly spread tickets across its five price categories, but the actual prices for each category varied between sessions and for a large number, were skewed towards the high end.[5]  For example, the average ticket price for Olympic athletics medal sessions was £231.88 and a fifth of tickets cost more than £400.

The report analysed Team GB gold sessions, plus athletics, aquatics, hockey and cycling because these are sports where London will host or hopes to host major sporting championships in the near future.

Notes to editors:

  1. All prices cited are for tickets sold in the UK public sale. Average prices exclude 'special tickets'. Special’ tickets are excluded from these calculations due to the format LOCOG used to publish the data, which made it impractical to include them. In the Olympics, special tickets costing £1-£16 for children and £16 for seniors were available for some non-medal sessions, and free tickets for carers accompanying disabled spectators were available for all sessions. For instance: 6% of athletics tickets were special tickets, 1% in swimming, 5% in track cycling.
  2. Read the report
  3. Read the full data. The 5000 m is session AT015, Men’s 100 m final is session AT005 and the 10m platform diving is DV016.
  4. London is hosting the 2014 Tour de France road cycling event, the 2015 European field hockey championships, the 2017 Athletics world championships and 2017 Paralympic athletics world championships. It has also bid for the 2014 European swimming championships and the 2015 Track Cycling world championships.
  5. LOCOG refused to confirm ahead of the Games how many tickets were being sold in different price categories and continued to withhold this after most tickets had been sold, ignoring the precedent set at Sydney 2000.
  6. LOCOG set itself the target of raising £500million from ticket sales and ultimately raised £657 million.
  7. See Table 2 on P6 of the report
  8. The London Assembly has been engaging with LOCOG since 2009, seeking to shape the ticketing strategy. It launched a public consultation on the topic, considered good practice from other events and published several reports before the Games, which can be accessed here.
  9. Andrew Dismore AM, Chair of the Economy Committee, is available for interview. Contact details below.
  10. As well as investigating issues that matter to Londoners, the London Assembly acts as a check and a balance on the Mayor.

For more details, please contact Lisa Moore or Julie Wheldon in the Assembly Media Office on 020 7983 4603/4283. For out of hours media enquiries please call 020 7983 4000 and ask for the Assembly duty press officer. Non-media enquiries should be directed to the Public Liaison Unit, Greater London Authority, on 020 7983 4100.