Knight admits alarm bells ringing in SOCOG

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The Independent Online

The Sydney Olympics president, Michael Knight, admitted "alarm bells" are ringing throughout the entire organization after a scathing report into SOCOG's ticketing process.

The Sydney Olympics president, Michael Knight, admitted "alarm bells" are ringing throughout the entire organization after a scathing report into SOCOG's ticketing process.

Knight and SOCOG chief executive Sandy Hollway on Tuesday both rejected calls for their resignations following an independent inquiry finding that there are serious flaws in SOCOG's management.

But they admitted a urgent review of all SOCOG's operating procedures was now required.

No-one was sacked or resigned over the issue, although ticketing manager Paul Reading was demoted and two new staff members were hired to oversee the next stage of the ticketing process, reducing Hollway's responsibilities.

Knight admitted there was a danger that the management problems which left SOCOG embarrassed and apologetic over ticketing could exist in other areas.

"Obviously it rings alarm bells for the board," Knight told a news conference. "Are the problems that are identified here confined to ticketing or did they extend more widely? The board clearly intends to look at those issues."

Knight said the operations side of SOCOG was better staffed than the administrative side so he was optimistic that the rest of the organization was properly managed.

"In other areas of the organization we believe there are indications that we don't face the same problems," said Knight.

"There are good indications that the problems in ticketing are not endemic in the operations side. But it would be silly to take that for granted."

SOCOG was investigated when it was revealed it kept about 500,000 tickets out of a public ballot to offer to rich corporate clients at up to three times face value. The vast majority of tickets have since been returned for normal sale following public outrage.

The independent inquiry found that the controversy was caused by management failures by senior and middle management at SOCOG and oversight failures by the board as a whole.

Knight admitted there was were calls for sackings at a special board meeting held late on Monday to discuss the report, but would not elaborate.

"If you say to me do I think it's productive to elaborate on which members of the board said hostile things about which members of staff, I don't think that helps the process," Knight said.

Vice president John Coates described the controversy as a "terrible experience."

"I accept and regret that the criticisms of the board are fair and justified," said Coates. "We have to take stock in all areas to make sure our processes are okay."

There were widespread calls for resignations in Sydney's media on Tuesday.

The Australian newspaper, an official Sydney 2000 sponsor, said Knight and Hollway both deserve to lose their jobs.

"Sandy Hollway can no longer run SOCOG," the paper said in an editorial. "Less clear from the report, but by no means less required, is the resignation of Michael Knight from SOCOG."

Knight denied he was to blame for the ticketing trouble and said he would not be standing down.

"Remember when you go and read the report it doesn't say I did anything wrong," Knight said on Tuesday.

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