Fri, September 20, 2013

IOC prez weighs in on Games

By BOB MACKIN, Special to QMI Agency


International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge. (REUTERS)

LONDON - The host city of the 2012 Olympics has "refreshed" the Games, says the International Olympic Committee's president.

But one of London 2012's legacies could be a reform of how tickets are sold.

"We are definitely going to review the ticketing policy of the Games," Jacques Rogge said on Sunday. "The sale of tickets is a very complicated issue."

Rogge said the right balance must be struck between the general public of the host nation and ticketbuyers from around the world who want to visit the Olympic city and support their athletes in the Games.

"We are going to see whether this system will continue to work and how we can improve it," Rogge said.

Ticketing complaints were one of the major issues of the London Games. U.S. rightsholder CoSport forced buyers to pick their tickets up in London and brave lineups as long as six hours.

Many venues on the opening weekend had sections of empty seats. Some of the areas were within zones set aside for media pass-holders, dignitaries and sponsors.

While Rogge said reporters would have to wait until the Closing Ceremony on Sunday to get his definitive opinion on the Games, he hinted London's third time as host would be declared its best-ever performance.

"It has been the athletes' Games," he said. "The Olympic Village was fantastic; the venues were state-of-the-art, very well run. You had a fantastic public. This is not directly something that an organizer can deliver but the organizer can make it possible to have this kind of reaction from the public, and this was something exceptional."

Rogge was complimentary about the atmosphere of the city, the transportation system and the "very competent, very helpful" British military. Armed forces personnel were pressed into service to fill empty seats in some venues and staff the airport-style venue security checkpoints after private contractor G4S failed to complete its hiring.

"London had the intelligence to start very early in the preparation cycle by creating a legacy company, this is something we are definitely going to recommend to future cities," Rogge said.

Rogge mentioned swimmer Michael Phelps becoming the most-decorated Olympian of all-time and Usain Bolt becoming the "best sprinter of all time" as London 2012's biggest moments.

The next Games are in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 2016.