JUST 29,000 seats will be made available to members of the British and European public for the blue-riband men's 100 metres final at this summer's London Olympic Games. That represents 36 per cent of the seats available for the 80,000-capacity Olympic Stadium.
The figures were admitted at the weekend by the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (Locog). The remainder of the tickets have been allocated to officials, corporate hospitality clients, the media, groups with priority access and overseas spectators. Of the tickets available to the British and European public, 21,000 have already been snapped up. The remaining 8,000 will go on sale in April.
A Locog spokesperson said: "We don't have 80,000 seats to sell in the stadium for the 100m final. The net capacity of saleable seats is currently around 61,000 and around half these tickets will go directly to the UK public and the other half are purchased by client groups, including sports fans from all the competing countries, and sponsors."
The disclosure of what is being seen as a snub to the British public was criticised by Lady Doocey, the Liberal Democrat peer who is chair of the London Assembly's culture and sport committee.
"This is a Games for the rich rather than a Games for everyone," she said. "This obsessive secrecy [about ticket allocation] makes you wonder what they are hiding.
"Locog say that once all the tickets have been sold, then they will give us a breakdown. But that is absolutely no use to us because by then it will be too late to do anything about it. It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and we must make sure there is better access for all."
Lord Coe, the chairman of Locog, said last year that he hoped 75 per cent of tickets would be available to the British public but conceded the figure could drop to 50 per cent for highest-profile events.
"It is probably more likely to be 50 per cent for something like the 100m final or the opening ceremony," he said at the time.
It also emerged at the weekend that the British public would be offered only half of the 100,000 unsold tickets likely to be returned from foreign countries. The other half will be redistributed overseas to nations where demand is high.
Four million additional tickets will go on sale in April. These will include one million "contingency" tickets held back by Locog, 1.5 million football seats and 1.5 million tickets for the Paralympics.