London Olympics black market tickets scandal revealed

A probe has been launched into claims of widespread corruption among foreign agents and officials supplying tickets to the London Olympics.

The International Olympic Committee is threatening a radical shake-up of the way Olympic tickets are distributed among its member countries after a Sunday Times investigation suggested officials were offering thousands of top tickets on the black market.

London Olympics chief Lord Coe was dragged into the row after the newspaper secretly filmed Greek national Olympic committee president Spyros Caprolos claiming he had successfully lobbied him for more premium Olympic tickets on Greece’s behalf.

The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (Locog) tonight denied the claims.

The revelations have prompted senior politician Sir Menzies Campbell - a member of the Olympic Board which helps oversee London 2012 - to call for offending countries to lose future allocations of tickets.

He told the BBC: “The sanctions should be not just that the tickets get cancelled for this Olympic Games but that tickets are not awarded on future occasions.”

The Sunday Times newspaper has presented a dossier of evidence on agents and officials controlling the tickets for 54 countries.

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Thousands of the best seats at the top events - including the 100m final - were up for sale after being siphoned off from official supplies held by overseas national Olympic committees (NOCs), the newspaper said.

National Olympic committees are forbidden to sell their tickets abroad or to anyone who plans to resell them.

But The Sunday Times said undercover reporters posing as envoys of a Middle Eastern ticket tout found 27 officials and agents who were willing to do business.

According to the paper, these included one country’s official ticket agency which The Sunday Times claimed offered category AA tickets, the best seats in the stadiums, to the fake Middle Eastern tout for up to �6,000 each.

The IOC confirmed they were investigating the allegations and will consider a complete shake-up of how Olympic tickets are distributed among member countries.

An IOC statement read: “The International Olympic Committee has moved quickly to deal with allegations that some National Olympic Committees and Authorised Ticket Resellers (ATR) have broken rules relating to the sale of Olympic tickets.

“After claims that several NOCs and ATRs were reportedly willing to break the rules by offering to buy or sell tickets outside their territory, sell tickets at inflated prices, or sell tickets to unauthorised resellers, the IOC has ordered an immediate inquiry and referred the allegations to its independent ethics commission.

“On being informed of the allegations, the IOC immediately convened an extraordinary meeting of its executive board and determined a number of actions - the convening of the ethics commission and asking for any evidence of wrongdoing to be provided to the commission without delay.

“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 thatlo tickets are allocated and sold internationally in the future.”