Allegations of black market touting by foreign Olympic committees could see thousands of tickets cancelled, but an inquiry into the scandal may not be completed before the games begin.
Claims that seats for high-profile events – including the 100 metres final – have been sold for up to £6,000 after being siphoned off from foreign Olympic committees caused an outrage when they emerged.
The claims, published by The Sunday Times, are being investigated by the International Olympic Committee Ethics Commission, headed by Pâquerette Zappelli. But any investigation is now unlikely to be completed before the opening ceremony.
The scandal allegedly involves more than a quarter of the 204 countries represented at the London Games and thousands of tickets. “We could just cancel all the tickets from which you could establish they were being sold at greater than face value. That’s what happens at rock concerts”, said organisers of the games in a statement.
The statement added: “For the next games we could halve the ticket allocations for countries that offended this time. If athletes break the rules, they get punished. It is particularly galling as there are lots of people who haven't got tickets in this country”.
Tessa Jowell, Local Organising Committee board member and shadow Olympics minister added: “This was the responsibility of the IOC. They now need to decide what to do next, whether that's recalling the tickets or something else. It must be a decision that inspires public confidence."
Official overseas ticket supplies are held by national Olympic committees, NOCs, within member countries. They are forbidden to sell their tickets abroad or to anyone who plans to resell them.
Around 1.1 million tickets out of the 8.8 million available have been allocated to NOCs for the London games. But officials and agents representing 54 countries were willing to breach rules on selling them, The Sunday Times said.
Journalists posing as envoys of a Middle Eastern ticket tout reportedly found 27 officials and agents willing to do business. One, from Serbia, allegedly offered £1,500 tickets for £80,000. China's official ticket agency reportedly agreed to sell the best seats in the stadiums for up to £6,000 each.
In the meantime, the impact this would have on Nigerians who have bought their tickets from overseas representatives remains to be seen as the investigation continues.