Olympics Mired by Ticket Scandal

After a spectacle of an opening ceremony, the London Olympic Games are in full swing. And so, apparently, is a ticket scandal currently making headlines in the international press.

Olympic organizers rushed yesterday to respond to images of half-empty stands in the first days of the Games, including at several of the most popular events, including swimming, gymnastics and basketball. Today, BBC reporter Dan Roan tweeted a picture of empty seats at the men’s gymnastics final.

A government minister said an inquiry had been launched into the issue. And today, Olympic organizers promised to put tickets “back in the pot.” According to Al Jazeera, some 3,000 tickets from federations were offered anew to the public.

On July 17, Britain’s Sunday Times published the results of a months-long undercover investigation, which concluded Olympic representatives and partners in more than 50 countries were involved with illegal ticket scalping on the black market.

The Times caught 27 different representatives offering to sell tickets at inflated prices. One of the most high profile allegations was against Spyros Capralos, Greek Olympic Committee president and organizer for the 2004 Athens Games. (Learn more.)

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) Ethics Commission is currently dealing with the allegations. The commission also met recently to discuss allegations of multimillion-pound corruption against one of its most prominent former members, Joao Havelange, also the former president of Fifa.

The IOC Ethics Commission was set up in 1999. It has dealt with large-scale scandals before, such as the Salt Lake City scandal, in which IOC members took millions of dollars worth of bribes in the bidding for the 2002 Winter Olympics. As a result, 10 IOC members were expelled and 10 more were sanctioned.

Deadspin, the hard-hitting sports website, said this latest ticket scandal is “A Reminder That Everything About The Olympics Is Always Corrupt.”

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