Sport on TV: Ticket to ride gravy train – on the fast track, of course
Sunday 19 February 2012
The idea of a home Olympics is wearing thin for Denis Clayton. He has been to every summer Games since 1960 but having put up £400 for athletics tickets, he got none and won't be going to London 2012. Mind you, they might have seen him coming. In Olympic Tickets for Sale (Channel 4, Monday) he put on a slideshow of his travels and one picture showed him standing on the running track before being escorted off. Clearly there's a security issue, and someone is keeping track of him.
Denis has already arranged his accommodation in London – at £10 a night. Presumably he applied for that way back in Victorian times. But such thrift is of no value to the ticket-sellers, especially as the organising committee Locog reportedly sold 300,000 tickets to Thomas Cook, at a price of £25m, so the travel company could sell them on in packages.
According to Peter Moore of Iluka, a company acting on behalf of Thomas Cook, a six-night stay with tickets for the 100m final – "you can wipe Usain Bolt's brow" – and a few cycling finals comes in at £19,596 per person. You have to bring 22 other people, though, which bumps the price up to a cool £450,708. Start mopping your own brow now.
Moore, who is apparently no longer involved with Thomas Cook, later reveals that customers can use the special traffic lanes reserved for members of the beloved "Olympic family", even if you're just popping out for a bag of chips.
It's not surprising that such gold-medal sums are driving the likes of Denis crazy – his £460, all-in, is of no interest to Locog. Meanwhile Keith Scott, father of butterfly swimming hopeful David, didn't get any tickets either, like so many parents of participating athletes. He says he simply couldn't afford to send any more money to Locog in the ballot because he has to spend it on his son's kit. It's astonishing how much a pair of Speedos costs these days – unless he's investing in some hi-tech sharkskin all-in-ones.
At least there's no plan yet to cordon off one of the lanes at the pool, because that really would get under everyone's skin.
As a private company, Locog is not required to reveal details of its financial transactions. Baroness Doocey complains: "This cloak of secrecy really hasn't helped anybody." Now there's an item of Team GB clothing they could add to the merchandising range.
* One of the great hopes of London 2012 is that it will inspire our children to take up sport. Watching Friday Night Lights (Sky Atlantic, Tuesday), the much-fêted new series about a high school American football team, you can only wonder at how we have been left standing against the gym wall in this respect.
You can't really imagine a whole town being obsessed with the exploits of the local comprehensive's footie team. In the States even a secondary school has a full-blown stadium packed to the rafters, whereas here they would be lucky to have any facilities to use at all. And parents who struggle to buy a pair of swimming trunks are unlikely to splash out hundreds of pounds on body armour for little Wayne.
There are no bulldog-wielding parents snarling on the sidelines in Dillon, Texas, and perhaps this series will prove a little too saccharine for English tastes. As always, the high school heroes get all the girls, which probably wouldn't happen to our spotty, gangling centre-forwards.
Of course, they can get all the girls and money and fame they could possibly want by the age of 17, if they leave school to sign for a club. But that means they might not know what to do with it when they get it.
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