UK Politics

Thousands of Olympic tickets allocated to government

How a London 2012 ticket might look
Image caption The government says the Olympics will showcase the UK to a massive international audience

The government has confirmed it has bought 8,815 tickets for the London Olympics, at a cost of nearly £750,000.

Of those, 213 are much-sought after opening ceremony tickets and 143 are for the closing ceremony,

The figures, from a Sky News Freedom of Information request, also showed £33,085 went on 257 athletics tickets.

The government said the allocated tickets were for business and political leaders, and stressed there would be no free tickets for civil servants.

So far, some 3.5 million tickets have been sold to 850,000 people, according to London 2012 organisers Locog.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport is understood to have put in bids for the entire government with the allocation to be shared across departments.

Forty-one of the very best opening ceremony seats - priced at £2,012.12 - will go to dignitaries and heads of state.

According to the figures, nearly £30,000 was spent on diving tickets, which will include British medal hopeful Tom Daley's events, and a further £26,600 went on 411 beach volleyball tickets.

'Economic benefits'

In a statement, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport said hosting the Games was a "once-in a-generation opportunity to showcase the UK to a massive international audience".

"We are determined to use this unique opportunity to maximise the economic benefits for the country.

"The government has purchased 8,815 tickets for the Games - around 0.1% of the 8.8 million tickets available.

"These will be used to invite and accompany a number of international and domestic political and business leaders, as well as guests with a close connection to the Games and its legacy.

"As we have said before, there will be no free tickets for civil servants, and none available to them for the opening and closing ceremonies."

Ticket allocation has angered thousands of members of the public who were left empty-handed after the opening and closing ceremonies, athletics and cycling rapidly sold out.

Many more people applied than got tickets, leading to disappointment and frustration at a system in which applicants were told money would leave their accounts before they were notified which events they had been allocated.

This led to days of limbo before applicants knew whether they had any tickets, and if so, which ones.

The majority of events are now sold out, but Locog estimate that up to a million more tickets will be made available next year as the exact number of seats becomes clearer from contingency, returns and the fitting out of venues.

The public will have two more chances to buy tickets on a first-come first-served basis.

Unsold Paralympic tickets and leftover Olympic football tickets will go on sale in December. Further tickets will be released online in April.

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