China probe illegal sale of Olympic tickets

Beijing: China has ordered a probe into the allegations of illegal sale of tickets for London Olympics following revelations in the British media.

Song Luzeng, Secretary General of the Chinese Olympic Committee, said the COC learnt the allegations by British media over the black market ticket sale for the London Olympic Games, especially the part involving an authorised ticket reseller (ATR).

"The COC took an immediate action. We demanded a thorough and sincere internal probe to be conducted by the ATR for China," Song said.

"We will keep a close eye on the issue and report the updated information to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in time," he told Xinhua news agency.

Dozens of officials and ticket agents for the London Games, including the one authorised for China -- Caissa Touristic -- have been caught selling thousands of top tickets on black market for up to 10 times their actual price, `The Sunday Times` had reported.

According to a two-month undercover investigation by the British newspaper, it found "widespread corruption among officials and agents controlling the tickets" for at least 54 countries.

IOC called an emergency meeting of its executive board and launched an investigation on Friday.

According to the report, China`s official ticket agency had used a United Kingdom front company to buy dozens of "the best seats in the stadiums" to "top events meant for the British public".

They agreed to sell tickets to the `Sunday Times` reporters, who posed as Middle Eastern ticket touts, for up to 6,000 British pounds (about USD 9,400) each, according to the report.

The Chinese travel agency, Caissa Touristic, denied they were involved in selling tickets in the black market.

"We have carried out every operation following the rules and requests of IOC and COC," said Caissa`s vice president Zhang Rui.

"The story published by the Sunday Times is untrue, at least the part about us."

Other NOCs and ATRs alleged to be involved in the ticket scandal, such as the Greek and Serbian Olympic Committees and a Lithuanian travel agency, rejected the allegations.

The IOC yesterday said it was investigating allegations that some national Olympic officials were breaking strict rules on selling tickets for the London Games.

It pledged to take the "strongest sanctions" possible if members of national Olympic committees (NOCs) and ATRs were found to have broken the rules.

Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) has expressed its supportive attitude to the IOC action through an email to Xinhua.

Olympic Games ticket allocations have been given by organisers to each of the 205 national Olympic committees to sell in their home countries, some of which may appoint a local organisation to sell the tickets.

IOC rules prohibit national committees from selling tickets abroad, inflating ticket prices or selling tickets to unauthorised resellers.

The IOC ethics commission has asked the Sunday Times for all of its evidence, but the whole investigation is expected not to be completed until after the London Games, slated from July 27 to August 12.


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