INTERNATIONAL Olympic officials have opened a high-level investigation into allegations that authorised representatives in more than 50 countries -- including a national Olympic committee -- were involved in selling London Olympics tickets on the black market for profit.
The IOC convened an emergency session on Saturday to discuss a dossier of evidence presented to it by Britain's The Sunday Times. The newspaper published an investigation on Sunday claiming that officials have been offering tickets for the London Games, including highly sought-after events such as the men's 100 metre final, at vastly inflated prices.
One of the most damaging allegations was against Spyros Capralos, the Greek Olympic Committee president and top organiser for the 2004 Athens Olympics who was quoted as saying he had "pulled strings" with London organising chairman Sebastian Coe to obtain an extra batch of premium tickets for official agents in Greece, on the pretext that demand in his country had outstripped expectations.
The paper said Capralos acknowledged in talks with its undercover reporters that demand had actually been very low and that many of the tickets were subsequently sold to people outside Greece for profit.
The London organising committee said Capralos's alleged boasts of discussions with Coe were untrue. Coe had told the Greek Olympic Committee that tickets were allocated in accordance with IOC ticketing policies, it said.
"There was no further contact -- either formal or informal -- on this subject," it said in a statement. A Greek Olympic Committee official, speaking anonymously because of the investigation, denied anything untoward had happened.
At issue are ticket allocations given to each of the 205 national Olympic committees to sell in their home countries.
IOC rules forbid national committees from selling tickets abroad, inflating ticket prices or selling tickets to unauthorised resellers. But The Sunday Times said its undercover reporters, who posed as illegal ticket-sellers acting for clients in the Middle East, caught officials red-handed.
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