Lord Coe says the London Olympics has failed to build a secure future for school sport as it emerged that nearly a quarter of a million tickets for this summer's Games went unsold.
The outgoing chairman of London 2012, who has been appointed the Government's new legacy chief, admitted he had been disappointed at the lack of consensus about physical education and urged politicians from all parties to get together to remedy the problem. He said: "I find it frustrating that off the back of the sport we have witnessed, the role models that have emerged, that we are still discussing the future of school sport in the state sector."
In evidence to the London Assembly, Lord Coe and Locog chief executive Lord Deighton, defended themselves against allegations of a lack of transparency surrounding ticket sales.
Among those never offered for sale were 2,407 tickets for athletics in the Olympic Stadium near the cauldron – which were withdrawn until organisers could be sure there was no risk the eternal flame would burn spectators.
They said they had achieved their targets for sold and concessionary tickets including those under the "pay-your-age" scheme for under-16s.
Lord Deighton insisted that "there has never been an event that was as full as our event". He said more than 99 per cent of tickets in most sessions had been sold. More than 8.2 million of the 8.47 million available tickets for the Games had been sold. Of these, nearly eight out of 10 went to the British public. However, 263,824 did not sell – approximately three per cent overall. These included 284 tickets for the opening ceremony.
The Paralympics meanwhile sold 2.84 million tickets – 98 per cent of the total available. Nine out of ten of these were bought by UK citizens. Both peers denied that fans with the deepest pockets had managed to buy the most tickets through the website process, insisting that those who persisted and were prepared to compromise over their choice of sport had eventually succeeded.
Lord Coe said that many of the empty seats which marred the opening days of coverage were as a result of "churn" caused by Olympic officials and media moving between events. The problem was eventually rectified by military personnel and Games makers acting as seat fillers.
Sport, pages 56-57
London has bid to host the 2017 Paralympic Athletics World Championships in a move that, if successful, would see the Olympic Stadium host the event weeks before the World Athletics Championships.
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