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The true cost of tickets for the Olympics: community and workplace organising?

from Corporate Watch

Official prestige tickets for the 2012 Olympics, which include food and drink, are going to be some of the most expensive in the history of sport, at £4,500 per person.

These tickets cannot be sold as single tickets, but only in blocks of ten. In addition, conditions of purchase will mean that an individual or company buying hospitality tickets for the opening or closing ceremonies of the Games will have to pay a minimum of £270,000, because seats for other events much also be bought at the same time. The only sports tickets to ever be more expensive were those for the 2011 Super Bowl in Texas at £5,545 each. However, once tax is added, the Olympics tickets become £5,400, so together with the ‘minimum buy’ requirements the tickets are not far off the most expensive sports tickets in history.

The London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) has justified the prices, because each prestige ticket will subsidise free tickets for school children, £25 per ticket. However, profits to the three companies that paid large, undisclosed amounts to LOCOG in order to sell the best seats at the Games will be extortionate.

Prestige Ticketing Limited (PTL), jointly owned by Sodexo and Mike Burton (a former England rugby player) have 70,000 of the 130,000 prestige tickets. The other two companies are: Thomas Cook and Jet Set Sports (JSS), a US company. JSS said that the prices of their tickets won’t be made public and Thomas Cook’s prices are yet to be released.

Controlling Communities

In addition to this, and the fact that most tickets for the Games are unaffordable, the full picture of the cost of the possibility of being able to get a ticket for the Games is much worse. Some recent developments in the activities of the International Olympic Committee highlight the lengths this corporate institution, in its many guises, goes to ensure its profitability and reputation.

Community organisers in the five Olympic boroughs in London have in recent weeks been sent emails asking them to notify their local council if they are going to be organising any event in 2012 between May 1st and October 31st. If more than 499 people are expected then or a license is required, campaigners are required to notify the council before March 23rd 2011. This applies across London, not just in the five boroughs of Hackney, Tower Hamlets, Newham, Waltham Forest and Greenwhich. Apparently this is to ‘make sure that local events run smoothly and successfully during the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games’, yet it is clearly also in order for the relevant local and Olympic authorities to control any community or political events taking places during the Games which may not fit with the Olympic legislation that does not permit protests against the Games during the time and in the vicinity of the Games.

Blacklisting Workers

If this wasn’t already bad enough, an RMT worker has recently been sacked from working on the prestigious media centre for the Olympics and threatened with violence for blowing the whistle on illegal blacklisting practices happening on the Olympics site. The disciplinary hearing was a farce, with management dismissing a threat to the RMT member made by his senior engineer of "come outside and sort this out man to man" despite the manager putting these very words in his own witness statement.

Frank Morris was dismissed by Daltech Services following weeks of intimidation and threats of violence by senior members of Daltech management after he raised concerns about another worker who was previously sacked from working at the Olympics Media Centre due to his name being on a blacklist of union members. Frank was transferred to work on the Belmarsh Prison extension, also with Daltech Services, but in December, due to the extent of bullying he suffered by his employers, he had to call the police for protection. He was sacked in February and the RMT are organising a picket to support him.

The media centre is being built by Skanska and Carillion, two of the large building contractors exposed for their illegal blacklisting after a raid on the premises of the Consulting Association by the government in 2009. John McDonnell MP called the Consulting Association scandal "the worst
case of organised human rights abuse ever in the UK". However, the practice is continuing on one of the most high-profile building projects in the world.

Original article on Corporate Watch posted February 24, 2011

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