ATHENS – Greek Olympic Committee President Spyros Capralos has denied reports that he obtained extra tickets for the 2012 games in London to re-sell on the black market, although he was caught on camera allegedly boasting about the scheme. The Sunday Times in London reported there was a scandal brewing around tickets for the games involving 27 Olympic officials and agents, including Capralos, as well as the General Secretary of Serbia’s Olympic Committee, Djordje Visacki.
The newspaper reported that Capralos told undercover reporters posing as illegal ticket sellers that he had “pulled strings” with London Organizing Chairman Sebastian Coe to obtain extra tickets for official agents in Greece. The paper said Capralos acknowledged that demand had been very low in Greece, suffering through an economic crisis, and that many of the tickets were subsequently sold to people outside Greece for profit.
The Hellenic Olympic Committee said the allegations were “untrue and misleading” and all sales had been conducted by an agent. A statement on their website read: “The whole process was totally transparent and in accordance with the laws of the Greek State. Therefore, there can be no issue on creating a ‘black market’ by the HOC which did not buy any tickets whatsoever. The journalists of the Sunday Times, violating all principles of journalistic ethics, pretended to be representatives of a ticket selling company, and had even created a fake webpage. The whole discussion concerned the Winter Olympic Games of Sochi 2014.”
It added,“The video recording was made with a hidden camera, in a misleading way too, while the publishing of the statements of the HOC president, Mr Spyros Capralos was fragmentary with a patchwork of answers made in a way that served the authors of the article. Even in the published statements of the HOC president – which we would like to stress once more are a product of a patchwork – as every reader can notice, there is nothing reproachable. On the contrary, the way of operating and the allocation of the tickets of the Olympic Games is dutifully explained.”
The International Olympic Committee’s ethics commission is investigating all the claims. Denis Oswald, a member of the IOC executive board and the London 2012 Co-ordination Commission Chairman, insisted anyone found guilty of selling London 2012 tickets on the black market would be banned from any future role in sport. He stressed, “These people should no longer belong to the Olympic movement.”
In Belgrade, the General Secretary of Serbia’s Olympic committee, Djordje Visacki, also denied wrongdoing. He said in a statement to The Associated Press that national bodies are not in charge of the tickets “because the distribution of all tickets is entirely in the hands of an official distributor who has direct contract with the organizers of the Olympic Games.”
Visacki was mentioned by the British paper as trying to facilitate the sale of black-market tickets. At issue are ticket allocations given by organizers to the 205 national Olympic committees to sell in their home countries. The committees appoint a local organization to sell the tickets, a process meant to ensure equity. IOC rules prohibit national committees from selling tickets abroad, inflating ticket prices or selling tickets to unauthorized resellers.
(Sources: Associated Press)