Olympic ticket ballot battle

Hannah ThompsonYouGovLabs and UK Public Opinion Website Editor
June 08, 2011, 8:19 PM GMT+0

Almost two thirds of British people believe that the families of Olympic athletes and British residents should have been given preferential treatment in the random public ballot for event tickets which left many applicants empty-handed, even if they have personal involvement with the Games, our survey has discovered.

School children and Olympic athletes themselves were also among those that significant numbers of the public felt should have been given preference in the ticket ballot, while sponsors were among the most unpopular in the list of who should have come higher in the ballot queue.

  • When asked to choose from a list of groups who should possibly have been given preference on the allocation of tickets, the families of Olympic athletes were the most popular choice with 62% thinking they should have been given priority
  • 61% say British residents should have been given preference for London 2012 tickets
  • 57% thought that Olympic athletes should have been towards the front of the queue
  • While a significant 39% felt that school children should have been given preference (although 45% did not)
  • At the other end of the scale, just 26% though sponsors of the Games should have taken priority
  • And only around one in five (21%) thought that London residents should have been given priority for tickets over others

Allocation arguments

The process for obtaining tickets by random ballot has suffered criticism from applicants and commentators, as many failed to secure seats at the events they had wanted. It was recently estimated that around 55% of those who applied for tickets did not receive any at all.

Snubbed applicants include British cycling gold medallist Bradley Wiggins, whose wife and two children were not accorded tickets in the ballot, while the mother of British diving sensation Tom Daley has secured places, but, because applicants will not know what events they have won until the 24th of June, much of the family remain unaware if they will be present at Daley’s Olympic effort. At some events, up to half of the tickets were controversially allocated to sponsors and officials, although London Mayor Boris Johnson notably failed to receive one.

Families and that 'special moment'

Competitors have been able to buy two tickets for every event in which they will be competing (although swimmers can only buy one) through a carefully controlled system managed by the London 2012 Organising Committee (LOCOG), but any other additional family members or friends wishing to attend had to apply in the main public ballot like everyone else. Although Locog has stressed that this move will allow ‘all athletes to have those closest to them sharing their special moment’, Laurie Denton, grandfather of an unnamed swimmer set to compete next year, has urged families to contact Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt in protest at what he perceives as the lack of allocation to family members, especially where only one ticket has been allowed. ‘Both the mums and dads deserve to be there,’ he has said.

The chief executive of London 2012 Paul Deighton emphasised that the committee is working as hard as it can to make tickets available to as many people as possible in the second ballot. A London 2012 spokesman commented: ‘Those who were unsuccessful in the initial process will have priority in the next round of sales which start later this month, and they will be contacted soon to inform them about the next steps.

‘There are still plenty of tickets available to see great Olympic sport across all price points,’ he said.