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Leading article: A threat of empty seats at the Olympics


Never mind the economic storm clouds threatening from Europe, Olympic fever is hotting up. David Beckham admitted to goosebumps at the torch handover ceremony in Athens this week, Princess Anne carried the flame off the specially chartered jet that brought it to Britain last night, and the 8,000-mile, 70-day relay that will take it within 10 miles of 95 per cent of the British population now begins.

It is unfortunate, then, that so many people who wanted to attend the Games have not managed to get tickets. Even more so given that, as is revealed in this newspaper today, there are swathes of corporate seats still unsold.

The organising committee, Locog, set aside 80,000 of the 8.8 million Olympics tickets to be sold as corporate hospitality, with the money raised paying for 150,000 school children and pensioners to watch the Games for free. So far, so good. Except that with just two months to go, at least 20 per cent of the tickets remain unwanted. Locog maintains its plans are on track. But the committee – which has faced repeated criticism over its ticketing policy already – must now answer the charge that it over-allocated corporate tickets at the expense of ordinary people.

On the plus side, there is, at least, still an opportunity to go to the men's 100m final – so long as you have £4,500 to spare.