London Olympic ticket touts to face 20,000 pound fines

London: Touts caught illegally selling tickets at the Olympics in London next year face fines of up to 20,000 pounds (USD 32,340), the government said on Thursday.

The fine had initially been set at 5,000 pounds but the government announced the increase before Olympic tickets go on sale next week.

"The 2012 Games will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience the Games on home soil," Home Secretary Theresa May said during a visit to the Olympic Park.

"By increasing the fines for touting we are sending a clear message to criminals and prospective criminals that it is not worth their while and they are not welcome," she added.

Touts selling on tickets to sold-out events are a common sight outside concert and sports venues in Britain despite efforts by police to stamp them out.

"We do not want our Games blighted by touts," said Assistant Commissioner Chris Allison, the police officer who is coordinating Olympic security.

"Touts are part of organised criminal networks, often involved in other crimes, and we are committed to dismantling them layer by layer," he added.

"Today, we have sent out warning letters to those who may try to illegally sell Olympic tickets, to warn them their card is marked and we are watching."

A report by a committee of the London assembly published on Thursday called on government bodies to account for any tickets they received for Olympic events.

Games organisers had struck a "reasonable balance" between raising money and making tickets affordable for the Games, the Economic Development, Culture, Sport and Tourism Committee said. The Games have cost 9.3 billion pounds and ticket sales are expected to recoup around 500 million pounds.

Bureau Report

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