First, we have the Olympic marathon re-routed through Central London tourist magnets so that overseas TV viewers won’t have endure catching sight of the scruffy old East End. Then we have the Olympic Park renamed after the Queen, thanks largely to Boris Johnson. And now the Games ticket pricing structure has been announced.
Five years ago Locog chair Sebastian Coe told a Commons committee he wanted “roughly half” of the eight million tickets to be priced at “about £20” or even a bit less. Last December Locog chief executive Paul Deighton promised the same committee that the Games would be “highly affordable.”
You can see the full price breakdown here. Bear in mind that the organisers are supposed to raise £400 million from ticket sales while making the cost of entry to all events accessible, or at least reasonably so, to we tax-payers who’ve been coughing up to pay for the Games.
The argument is that the completely mad prices such as £750 for a close-up of the 100 metres final or over £2,000 for a prime view of the opening ceremony will make it possible for non-millionaires to see, say, the basketball quarter-finals for £55 or some preliminary athletics or beach volleyball rounds for £20.
I can see that there’s a difficult mathematical balance to be struck, but it is disappointing that less than one third of the tickets appear to fall into the £20 category rather than half of them as Coe had previously envisaged. Lib Dem London Assembly member Dee Doocey has described as “deplorable” the absence of discounted if not free tickets for people living close to the Park who have had to endure so much disruption. Chris Robbins, the Labour leader of Greenwich Council, one of the Olympic boroughs, has criticised the lack of provision for local children.
Coming on top of that terrible marathon decision, it is tempting to suspect that those Londoners living in very parts of town the Games are meant to benefit are becoming less of a priority lately. Market forces triumphing over social justice in Cameron’s Big Society? Have a good weekend.
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