Prohibitive ticket prices keep Indian Diaspora off Olympics opening

Updated: Jul 24, 2012, 16:13 PM IST

London: With three days to go for the Olympics opening ceremony, the rush for tickets are intense - but not for the estimated 1.6 million Indians in Britain.

The reason: a majority of Indians has been intimidated by the ticket prices in the black market, reportedly being sold at a price up to 6,000 pounds.

Little do the buyers know that a ticket could have been obtained from the official website investing a meager 20 pounds, at least to secure a gallery seat for a league match.

"It is a diaspora living in its insular world," Ravi Kumar, director of the London School of Management Education, adding: "Within this closed loop, information is circulated through word-of-mouth publicity, creating more myths about tickets than the truth."

Illegal selling still continues unabated, even if it is a criminal offence liable to a 20,000 pounds fine under the 2006 Olympics Act.

"Operation Podium" of the Metropolitan Police has led to the arrest of a large number of people, including offenders on eBay, it is still not a big enough effort to bring all the culprits to book.

Though the police have cracked down on over three dozen websites and arrested well over 1,000 individuals, many of whom were linked to organized crime, the underworld operatives` resilience to resurface has defied all methods of policing.

"Some of the operatives are too evasive and have a deep-rooted nexus," said Moshin Ali Raza, a security contractor.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is currently investigating corruption involving officials and agents representing more than 50 countries.

"It is too ambitious to expect a big result from this," says businessman Biswajit Maitra.

Sibasis Nayak, a software engineer living in Goodmaye, said: "I always have remained less optimistic over tickets after hearing nearly one million people were refused tickets in the first ballot last year."

Matloob Hussain, an IT professional working for Spargonet Consulting plc, said: "Buying a ticket is more to see venue than the event."

"I believe the bigger attraction is the entry to the ArcelorMittal Orbit (the observation tower in the Olympic Park, possibly London`s answer to Eiffel Tower)," he added.