IOC delays Sochi ticket sales in wake of scandal
LONDON (AP) The IOC postponed the start of ticket sales for the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, on Wednesday in the wake of corruption allegations involving tickets for the London Olympics.
The IOC opened an ethics investigation last week after Britain's Sunday Times newspaper reported that national Olympic committee officials and ticket agents in several countries were willing to offer London tickets on the black market for sale at inflated prices.
"During this process we have asked the Sochi organizing committee to temporarily delay the planning for its international ticketing program while we review the situation," the International Olympic Committee said in a statement on Wednesday.
"The move is purely precautionary. Sochi 2014 is not affected by the allegations and we continue to work closely with them."
Undercover Sunday Times reporters, posing as illegal ticket-sellers acting for clients in the Middle East, alleged widespread rules violations by national Olympic committees and their ticket agencies.
The paper said it presented the IOC with a dossier of evidence on 27 officials controlling the tickets for 54 countries, including allegations some were ready to sell tickets for up to 10 times their face value.
The IOC ethics commission has asked the Sunday Times for all its documentation. While the inquiry is not expected to be completed until after the London Olympics, the IOC can suspend any implicated officials and bar them from attending the games.
At issue are ticket allocations given by organizers to the 205 national Olympic committees to sell in their home countries. The committees appoint a local organization to sell the tickets, a process meant to ensure equity.
IOC rules prohibit national committees from selling tickets abroad, inflating ticket prices or selling tickets to unauthorized resellers.
Among those implicated in the Sunday Times report was the president of the Greek Olympic Committee, Spyros Capralos. The paper quoted him as telling the undercover reporters that he had "pulled strings" with London organizing chairman Sebastian Coe to obtain extra tickets for official agents in Greece.
The paper said Capralos acknowledged that demand had actually been very low, and that many of the tickets were subsequently sold to people outside Greece for profit.
The Greek committee issued a statement on Monday denying any wrongdoing by Capralos, saying his comments - filmed using a hidden camera - were presented in a "misleading" and "fragmentary" way.
Serbia's Olympic committee also denied wrongdoing after its general secretary, Djordje Visacki, was accused by the paper of trying to facilitate the sale of black market tickets.
Last month, Volodymyr Gerashchenko, secretary general of Ukraine's national Olympic committee, resigned following allegations in a BBC television report that he was willing to sell thousands of dollars' worth of tickets on the black market for cash.
Copyright 2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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