Around the Rings : Op Ed - London Olympic Ticketing Criticism Wholly Unjustified

LOCOG's second ticketing phase for British citizens closes later Sunday. (Getty Images)

(ATR) One of the world's leading behind-the-scenes figures for the Games is fed up with criticism of LOCOG's ticketing program, now commonplace in British media.

Former IOC marketing director Michael Payne says the controversy is a classic case of much ado about nothing.

Often sought by media and conferences for his views on Olympic marketing matters, the Lausanne resident is helping launch marketing for Rio 2016, including a mega-sponsorship with Brazilian bank Bradesco announced in December.

He's also taken up the cause of defending LOCOG with the below letter sent to the editors of Sunday papers throughout the U.K.

Dear Sir,

Michael Payne served as marketing director of the IOC from 1983 to 2004. (ATR)

I have been intimately involved with the ticketing programs of some 14 Olympic Summer and Winter Games.

As a former Marketing Director of the International Olympic Committee, I helped oversee the design and development of these Olympic ticket programs.

The international sports community and international media looks on at the London Olympic Ticketing Program, with utter amazement and total disbelief.

i. They have never before seen an Olympic Games effectively sell out 23 out of 25 sports, never mind achieve this, with one year to go to the Games. This does not even normally happen by the time of the Closing Ceremony!

ii. They never before seen such an open and democratic ticket distribution process implemented in the Host Country, with new initiatives targeted at special markets, like the Youth sector that I am certain will become a model for all future Olympic Games.

iii. They cannot understand how the British media and others might have interpreted the London ticket program as a problem and failure.

Never before in the 115-year history of the Olympic Games has the world ever seen such a successful Olympic Ticket program validating I believe the IOC’s original decision to bring the 2012 Olympics to London to ensure full Stadia packed with knowledgeable, passionate fans.

Normally Organizing Committees are criticized for empty stadia and building too large venues that then become white elephants. Let’s be fair, and recognize the tremendous and unprecedented success of the London 2012 ticketing program something Britain should be justly proud of.

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