Monday, July 23, 2012

Figure Involved In Salt Lake City Bribery Scandal Is Tied To 2012 Olympic Ticket Scandal

The biggest overseas ticketing agency for the London 2012 Games has been besieged by complaints after hundreds of buyers were forced to wait in lines for more than six hours and others received groups of tickets that were not seated together.

CoSport, which is the official overseas ticketing partner for the United States, Australia and Canada, was the subject of complaints in the U.S. last week after it told hundreds of purchasers they would not be receiving their tickets in the mail as promised and that they would have to collect their tickets in person from a box office in London instead.

By lunchtime, more than 200 people were waiting in line at a Paddington ticket office in temperatures of up to 90 degrees.  Some customers had to leave without collecting their tickets, while others found out that they had bought a group of tickets that were scattered in different locations at the same event.  One buyer from Toronto said three of four sets of tickets ordered for him and his 10-year-old daughter had come back with the seats a long way apart. "Having her sitting sections away and rows removed from me  is simply unacceptable," he said.

Another visitor from Northern England said it took CoSport staff at least 15 minutes to process each person in line.  He returned to his home in Harrogate empty-handed, with a promise from CoSport that his tickets would be couriered to him.  "I'm very nervous about this but still had [to wait] over two hours queuing and then a train to catch back to Harrogate. So, a wasted day, almost [$240] spent on train and food, and still no tickets," he said.

A London 2012 spokeswoman shirked any responsibility for the fowl up, saying that CoSport would have to deal with the fallout, and advised purchasers to contact the company directly.

The U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) gave CoSport the exclusive contract to handle distribution of tickets and hospitality packages for the London Games. The company is owned by the controversial Seattle millionaire Sead Dizdarevic, a well-known figure in Olympic circles for almost three decades.  Dizdarevic was implicated in the fallout from the 1999 Salt Lake City scandal, which rocked the Olympic movement to its core.   The IOC was forced to implement wholesale reforms after it emerged that large bribes had been paid to IOC members to bring the 2002 Winter Olympics to the city.

But this is not the first ticketing scandal involving tickets from CoSport at the 2012 games.  Last week, it emerged that the firm was sending out tickets to members of the public that were originally intended for Games sponsors.  IOC rules strictly prohibit reselling of tickets originally issued to Olympic sponsors. Recipients of Olympic tickets bought from CoSport (at a premium) reported that the tickets they received were stamped as having been originally issued to Dow Chemical and General Electric.  

The IOC suspended the sales process for the Sochi 2014 Winter Games while it investigates allegations that Olympic officials and agents representing 54 countries offered London 2012 tickets on the black market.

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