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The multi-million pound 2012 giveaway but who pays?

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Adrian Warner | 11:25 UK time, Friday, 15 October 2010

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London Mayor Boris Johnson's plans to give away 125,000 tickets to London schoolchildren is an initiative to be praised.

But he is still struggling to get the private cash to pay for it.

I understand Mr Johnson is looking for £2m from the private sector to pay for the 75,000 extra tickets he is buying in addition to the 50,000 he receives automatically from the organising committee for the kids' programme.

I've learned he went close to striking a deal last week with one leading London business but the negotiations broke down because the Mayor wanted too much money.

So, at the moment London council taxpayers will be paying for the tickets.

The Mayor is hoping one in eight children will get a chance to get their hands on the free tickets. They qualify by achieving a goal at school as part of 2012's Get Set programme.

There is a serious hurdle to overcome for the Mayor in getting the private sector to pay for all this. Any backer is going to want publicity for the scheme. But that is unlikely to go down well with official sponsors.

The backer will look like an official sponsor when it won't be.

So, how about copying an idea from the 2008 Beijing Olympics? China funded its magnificent Aquatics Centre by asking thousands of Chinese businessmen abroad to pay towards the project.

How about asking hundreds of businesses and organisations across London to pay for the scheme?

They would receive small recognition for their support but it wouldn't be so dramatic that it would look like they were ambushing the Olympic marketing campaign?

Or is it right that council taxpayers simply pay for all of this?


  • Comment number 1.

    Firstly, of course he should try and get business support and try to work around the minefield that is olympic sponsorship/banding law, but if that fails, asking the tax payer to pay for something that may reap amzaing rewards is not such a big deal once you look at the numbers.

    Look at the numbers. Not sure exactly, but if there are approx 7 million people in London, then then the cost per person would be 29p to enable the capitals young children to see first hand an olympics in there own backyard. What would the kids get out of it....a hell of alot. A chance to see some of the worlds biggest stars and to be motivated by sport and the passion it produces. Lets say that 20%-30% of these children then decide to take up sport, it´s 20-30% more than would have taken up a sport without going (very general figures I know)

    Another idea would be to approach the wealthiest of our sporting stars and ask them to make a donation so they are also getting involved in inspiring our nation. Look how much footballers earn and also tennis stars like Andy Murray, asking them to make a donation would not cause a big dent in their wallets but would be worth it for the kids.

    As these olympics are been designed for the next generation, I would like to see other cities doing the same thing so it gives the opportunity for more of our children in the UK to be inspired by sport.
    As a nation that complains about our children and the culture they ar being brought up in, anything that gives them a little bit more is breath of fresh air.

  • Comment number 2.

    The only really fair solution to this would be to require the politicians like Lord Coe to pay for it out of their own pockets. They got us into this mess.

    BTW, I'm surprised nothing is being made on the BBC website of the fact that the announcement on ticket pricing shows that promises about "affordable tickets" have been well and truly broken.

    Lord Coe promised that about half the tickets would be priced about £20 or less.

    Now we discover that out of about 8.8 million tickets, about 2.5 million will be that price. You don't need to be a mathematician to realise that that's a lot less than half.

  • Comment number 3.

    @2. Unfortunately, this appears to be the norm from the BBC these days - an institution which used to be the envy of others for its standards of journalism has fallen prey to the "Curse of the Press Release". The deepest these blogs seem to go (and ironically, for me, technology is the worst) seems to be discussing the releases paragraph by paragraph without any actual journalism being done.

    Living "Up Norf" as I do, what really pinches me about this whole Olypmic affair is that although I (and millions like me) have to pay a share towards it, I won't see any benefit at all.

    All the publicity and plaudits go to London (and Londoners); the leftover stadium will be used primarily by people from the Greater London area and so on.

    Imagine if all this money had been spread around the country to aid hospitals, education and infrastructure? It's a costly bit of PR and the only winners are ministers who get a nice dose of limelight.

  • Comment number 4.

    I would like the Olympic organisers to stop telling me that I will receive some benefit from these games as I will not. I cannot afford to go swanning of to London as apart from admission prices, public transport costs too much.

  • Comment number 5.

    @3 - I won't see any benefits, either! Boris is to be praised for his good intent; but I'm not sure (as a London ratepayer) I wish to bear the cost if he fails to gain financial support. [And when did this nonsense of 'Olympic marketing' creep in??] It's already costing me, and will doubtless cost more in travel disruptions: I use Stratford regularly. I would dearly love to be out of the country while all the brahouha is on, however it coincides with a major music festival in Kensington...which to me is far more important & much worthier!

  • Comment number 6.

    Why are London schoolchildren getting free tickets and not children across the UK?
    Is this an Olympics for London or the UK??
    All schoolchildren should hav e the opportunity to ballot for the free tickets
    there is a danger that the olmpics will only be accessible to Londoners and people for example in the North of England will be excluded

  • Comment number 7.

    So, as a London council taxpayer I have spent five years paying for the Games, now I am required to pay for other people's children to go and then, if I want to see something at the Olympics I will have to pay a third time. Hmm, I smell a rip-off on the horizon.

  • Comment number 8.

    As a Londoner I am expected to be able to pay for the Olympic Games, but I can't afford to attend them! And if Boris gives my kids a free ticket, who's going to take them? And if 1 gets a ticket and the other doesn't, won't *that* be fun to sort out?

  • Comment number 9.

    When the London Olympics were announced we were thrilled that for the first chance in our lives we could potentially participate and view this global sporting event. However, it seems that as pensioners we will find it extremely difficult to afford the extraordinary high prices being proposed for tickets. They are more in the league of the Covent Garden Opera House (!) than for the average citizen, student and senior citizen. And now we are facing massive cuts in public spending & services such as child benefit to cover the £5Billion+ cost of staging the olympics which we can no longer even afford to attend..... Instead we'll probably find that the seats are taken for high profile corporate hospitality, sponsors and wealthy overseas visitors.... This is really such a shame that instead of being the "people's games", or a sporting version of "Glastonbury", we have an event for the rich, famous & celebs! I really think that the Government should consider finding ways to offer seats to senior citizens like ourselves for affordable prices - I suspect that most pensioners will not bother, particularly those not literate with On-Line Apps, payment & registration systems. In summary, the games will be fantastic for those with Banking Bonuses, but large swathes of Britain will be practically excluded from participation.

  • Comment number 10.

    Ah As per Usual and the thoughts of Millions of Brits outside of the Capital, these games have benfited London & London Only.

    Why can't my Kids get the chance to win Olympic Tickets, Just becuase we live in small village in Scotland doens't mean we should be discriminated against, or Kids in Leeds, Edinburgh, Birmingham, Glasgow et al you catch my drift !

    Ticket prices are also astronomical what about Lord Coes £20 odd ticket promise.

    Will the government guarnatee that they will stop rail and aviation companies for jacking up prices for 2012 ????

    A big damp squib white elephant call it what you will, we'll wait for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014 and avoid the Great London Rip Off

  • Comment number 11.

    Interestingly a lot of people have immediately focussed on the lowest ticket price being £20 which is clearly not the case.
    There are a large number of events that have "special pricing" meaning OAP's will have access to tickets at £16, also for the U16's there is a "pay your age" policy - 5 year olds pay £5, 8 year olds pay £8 etc.

    It is also interesting to see the snipes and jibes about the Olympics only benefitting Londoners - obviously there is an element of oversight on the activities occuring outside of the M25 (Rowing, Sailing, Football, Mountain Biking, Canoeing) I don't recall this extent of outcry when Manchester hosted the Commonwealth Games. Then of course there have been a considerable number of Contracts awarded to Regional Companies for not only Construction works but some of the memorabilia.

    As a nation we should be proud that England was selected to host the games

  • Comment number 12.

    We the London council taxpayer have been fleeced by Boris.Is it not bad enough that we have been paying for the Olympics at £10 per month? We are not even given tickets to see any of the events. I suppose if we were 'underpriviliged' we would be let in for free! How come the mugs, such as myself are expected to pay for the event but are not given free entry?

  • Comment number 13.

    Whilst I wholeheartedly agree about involving young people why should it just be restricted to London? A major theme of the 2012 Olympics is the inclusion of venues and people outside of London but, as usual, this is not the case and we will have to contend with the UK being judged solely on London. Surely the rest of the UK has a right to attend and take part, especially the children, who, after all, will be the ones using the legacy that the games will bring or am I wrong??

  • Comment number 14.

    When I first saw the number, I thought wow that's a lot, how will they pay for that? But then I thought they must know what they're doing...apparently not! I think giving school children free tickets as prizes is a nice idea, but it doesn't have to be anywhere near that many! How on earth will they keep tabs of the achievements of that many school children?! I can just see people taking advantage of the system, such as teachers lying or exaggerating about achievements just to make their school look good. It’s common practise in comprehensive already. A more reasonable number would be 500 tickets, not 125K. How did they even think up that number if they didn't already know how they'll support it? Sounds like something someone just said it out of the blue! This is unfair to everyone else, like school children are for some reason more entitled than the rest of us: following the entitlement culture children and young people have become accustomed to. I can just see parents and teachers complaining that their kids didn’t get one or they did, but how about their siblings, or they’re the only one among their friends/peers not to receive one, because so many are available.

  • Comment number 15.

    If they want to give tickets away they should NOT go to just anyone they should be going to young participants in olympic sports.

    Motivating them for future Olympics NOT to little Johnny or Jenny just because they can spell Olympics or skip faster than the rest of the school.

    As per usual misguided ideas whiff of PR stunts just wait for the kids to sell them at a profit....

  • Comment number 16.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 17.

    Do you people not get a little bored of all the negativity. Can you not accept that the UK is probably the only country in the world that can both stage the Olympic games and have at least 90% of the population within 7-9 hours drive away form the host city. Sio you liev in North/Midlands/Wales/Scotland - 300 miles away max. Talk to the residents of Seattle or Perth about their access to the 1996/2000 games.
    You live on a different planet.
    £50 for a ticket to a once in a lifetime event. Around 200,000 will spend that each every Saturday going to see the top four Premiership sides play.

  • Comment number 18.

    Stealing an idea from the Chinese? That's a new low.

  • Comment number 19.

    @2. I find your suggestion nothing short of despicable. Of the 7 million, how many of those are taxpayers? And of those, how many have children who will benefit from it? Meanwhile, there are those who have kids who don't work (i.e. will not be taxed), and will gain every advantage it offers.

    Would you pay for something you don't need or want... or in this case, pay for someone else for something THEY need or want?

  • Comment number 20.

    "17. At 3:47pm on 15 Oct 2010, sam wrote:
    Can you not accept that the UK is probably the only country in the world that can both stage the Olympic games and have at least 90% of the population within 7-9 hours drive away form the host "

    Add the inevitable traffic jams and lack of parking = 3 weeks.

  • Comment number 21.

    "There is also a scheme for those aged 16 and under, with the cost of a ticket the same as the child's age." [

    If the average age of the ticket recipients is 14, the cost of the 75000 tickets that Boris is after would be £1.05m. If it's 16 then the cost would be £1.2m.

    What does he need £2m for?

  • Comment number 22.

    No it is not right or fair that council taxpayers subsidise the cost for anyone - no matter whether they are children, adults or senior citizens.

    I have no children, pay council tax, and already subsidise schools. This should be optional - as most of the people in London aim to get their kids into private schools, why not let them pay for it directly? Additionally, what events will these tickets be for? From experience, most children fidget too much too appreciate such freebies.

    And to comment on benefits throughout the country, other than events held on water and football, there are no other events which the majority of the British public will be able to go to. Pressure should be placed on the major hotel chains to ensure that they do not place a premium on hotel room prices, and that they also guarantee 50% of their rooms for UK bookings, thus encouraging people to come to London during the games, safe in the knowledge that they won't be fleeced - there will already be worries about the cost of refreshments at the venues, and other merchandising.

    The point is, the UK doesn't have the best transport network, and this will be placed under even more strain while London hosts the games.

    Finally, someone should now be pointing out the money that will be coming into the economy from the legacy of the Olympics. Athletes accomodation turned into housing for the residents of Newham - who gets all the revenue? (It should not all be left to that area.) West Ham et al wanting to move to the Olympic stadium - what are they paying for the privelege?

  • Comment number 23.

    #19, RandomArbiter:

    Sorry, was your post really aimed at me or did you mistype the number?

    If it was aimed at me, I'm afraid I have to confess I don't have a clue what you're talking about or why you think my suggestion that Lord Coe should pay out of his own pocket is despicable.

    I grant you it's unrealistic, as even with all the money he's trousered from the event, I suspect even he doesn't have enough money to make up the shortfall, but it would only be fair if he were at least made to chip in a million or two, just to teach him a lesson.

  • Comment number 24.

    Thanks for your comments. On the free tickets, the whole of the country IS getting free tickets. What 2012 officials are doing is charging a levy on some corporate tickets of £25 to pay for the free tickets. From these, 50,000 go to Boris Johnson for London schoolchildren and another 50,000 go to the Government for the rest of the country. Johnson has bought another 75,000 tickets from his allocation as a stakeholder to give away to London schoolchildren to make up 125,000. Obviously that's more tickets for London schoolchildren but Boris would argue London has paid more for the Games because of extra council tax.

  • Comment number 25.

    Although Boris has good intentions, the money used to pay for the tickets could be better spent on things that would actually benefit children If it is meant to be as a reward for children doing well, it only rewards the children who actually like sport, which not all kids do!

    As for ticket prices, it's not realistically an affordable day out, if you add on transport costs. There should at least be a free ticket for every taxpayer in the country, as we have been ripped off big time by falling for the lies of Lord Coe etc.

    On a final note I hope the government doesn't make the same make in 2018 as another over priced, pointless sporting competetion is the last thing that the country needs.

  • Comment number 26.

    even if a child wins one of these wonderful tickets ,where ever they are in the country, if the parents do not wish to go, or cannot afford to go, nor will the child. a child must win tickets for all the family, or it will be a waste of an entry

  • Comment number 27.

    #24, Adrian Warner:

    "Johnson has bought another 75,000 tickets"

    Do you mean that, or do you mean "Johnson has caused yet more tax payers' money to be spent on another 75,000 tickets"?

    Surely he didn't pay for them out of his own pocket, did he?

  • Comment number 28.

    Look the reality of past Olympics is that there will be a lot of empty seats at the games. No matter what Locog says, there will be times when the facilities are under used. Instead of going on about 'giving 125,000' tickets away, can't Johnson just be honest and say that school children will be used to make venues look full at times. Its nothing new, China bused in loads of 'supporters' and other host cities have used children in the past.

  • Comment number 29.

    Just to clarify one point made by ratsgod. I put this question to Boris Johnson's aides at the launch and they said the plan is that teachers would go with the students who get the tickets. Obviously they would need to have adults with them. This is slightly more challenging to organise because it is the school holidays but it isn't a matter of the parents needing to win the tickets too.
    On comment by Godiva (must be from Coventry perhaps?), I think that is slightly unfair because spectators have tended to be brought in in the past to fill gaps once organisers realised that the empty seats didn't look good. It has happened at most of the Games I have attended. This, by contrast, is a scheme set up in advance. Also my experience is that children (and adults) get a buzz from being at the Games, whatever the event. I will never forget sitting in a full stadium at 9 a.m. at the world athletics championships in Stuttgart in 1993 for the start of the decathlon when there were good deals for tickets. It was an amazing experience and it was brilliant that the tough guys of athletics got such a welcome, rather than the usual empty stadium for the opening discipline. Is that such a bad thing?


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