Examination of Witnesses (Questions 40-59)|
18 OCTOBER 2005
Q40 Mr Evans: Clearly, millions of
people will want to be part of the Olympic Games and will desperately
want to come and visit them. Will your technology allow you to
give some concessions, even for events like the opening ceremony,
which you will have no problems selling out at all? Are you looking
at some concession for people who are perhaps unemployed or other
people on low incomes?
Mr Mills: We have to be cognisant
of European law which states that you cannot discriminate in terms
of ticketing. We will be able to put in place programmes for certain
categories of individuals. It is possible for organisations to
buy tickets and offer them either free or in competitions or as
parts of children's programmes, or whatever; that is perfectly
OK. Once you have set the pricing of ticketing, you cannot start
discriminatory pricing. European law, unfortunately, then gets
in the way.
Q41 Mr Evans: Clearly that must be
made available throughout the world.
Mr Mills: Yes.
Q42 Mr Evans: Are you going to make fundamental
changes between how it was done in Athens and how it will be done
Mr Mills: Technology will be the
key. Clearly, the internet provides a huge channel for distribution
across the world. Some of the techniques that have been used in
the past we would like to try to avoid. Historically, ticketing
has been done on an allocation basis. In other words, you allocate
blocks of tickets around the world. We will be working closely
with the IOC to see if we can improve on that. What often happens
is that a country or an organisation will take a block of tickets;
those tickets will not be sold or they will find their way into
the system the wrong way. We need to be aware of that.
Q43 Mr Evans: Will you have a policy
to prevent a touts' bonanza in 2012?
Mr Mills: Yes, absolutely.
Lord Coe: There will be roughly
9.5 to 10 million tickets at the time of the Games; that is about
8 million for the Olympic Games and 1 point something for the
Paralympics. Just as a small teaser of our thinking, we want roughly
half that number to be out in the marketplace at about £20
or perhaps even marginally less. We are very aware that this needs
to be a Games, as Keith so rightly said, that meets all our revenue
and funding requirements but that is accessible.
Q44 Mr Evans: Twenty pounds sounds
really good, or whatever price it will be in 2012 with inflation.
Mr Mills: That is not in the front
row of the opening ceremony.
Q45 Mr Evans: I can see that. At
£20 people snap them up and put them on eBay.
Mr Mills: That is precisely what
I was referring to previously. If you can utilise the emerging
ticketing technology, it is possible to stop those sorts of things,
or at least minimise them.
Q46 Mr Evans: Will you be scouring
eBay as well to make sure about this?
Lord Coe: He may not be doing
that personally but I am sure that we will. There are provisions
in the Bill to deal with that.
Mr Mills: I happen to have run
a ticketing company for a number of years. It is an area that
I know well. The ingenuity of ticket touts throughout the world
is mind-boggling. We will do our best to minimise the slippage.
Lord Coe: It is a particular British
skill throughout the world!
Q47 Adam Price: On the last point
about concessionary tickets, if we do have concessionary tickets
in most cultural venues, it is because of the volume of tickets
involved and it comes within the ambit of anti-discriminatory
Mr Mills: I do not think it is
an issue of discrimination but one of making it fair across Europe.
I think it is a Europe-wide issue, although also a specific UK
Q48 Adam Price: We know that the
process of awarding some of the construction contracts has started.
Within those areas of expenditure for which you are responsible,
the staging elements, when do you think you will be in a position
to start to seek tenders for those contracts?
Lord Coe: That is done through
the Olympic Delivery Authority. Effectively, we are the client
here. We want to take those facilities and venues on time and
on budget, and we need them at the right point in order to be
able to stage test events. That is a very important process at
every venue. It is one of the things that did hit the timelines
in Athens. We really do want the ability properly to test all
these facilities. The procurement process throughout the Olympic
Delivery Authority is very much in evidence.
Q49 Adam Price: Then what about those
elements which are not construction but the staging elements,
things like sports equipment, furniture and catering?
Lord Coe: Those are overlays.
Mr Mills: LOCOG will be adopting
a very similar procurement strategy to the ODA but the major procurement
in LOCOG comes in the latter years, not in the early years. In
the first year or two in the life of LOCOG, the procurement of
services is really rather small. It kicks in towards the end of
Q50 Adam Price: There has been some
discussion already on how to facilitate local, and by that I mean
both London and UK firms, that want to secure some of those contracts.
What can you do within the bounds of competition law to try and
assist local firms?
Lord Coe: If they are businesses
that are looking to supply the London Organising Committee with
the types of services we have just outlined, that will be a very
clear procurement process and within the very clear framework
of competition policy.
Q51 Adam Price: So the major contracts
will be advertised widely and invitations to tender across the
Lord Coe: That will be the case
at the specific points we need them.
Q52 Adam Price: The Mayor has been
quoted as saying that he will use expensive lawyers to adapt the
interpretation of European competition law to guarantee the London
input; for example, I suppose bring some contracts below the levels
at which European competition law applies. That is one possibility.
Is that something that you have discussed with the Mayor?
Mr Mills: No, we have not discussed
that with the Mayor.
Lord Coe: We have not done so
at this stage. He is appearing before your committee on 1 November.
Q53 Adam Price: There is one final
issue. The sustainable management system was an important element
within your bid. Do you see that as a possible inhibitor, a possible
barrier, for small firms in particular in securing contracts?
Lord Coe: No, not particularly,
but the whole issue of a Games times transport plan is that is
effectively a public transport Games where basically the only
people travelling in vehicles will be the Olympic family and the
national federations. All those cars will be low carbon emissions.
We have a waste management system available that really will be
state-of-the-art. First of all, I do not think that will be a
huge inhibitor and the world will have moved on quite a bit by
2012 anyway. Secondly, this whole issue of sustainability and
the environmental theme within the bid document is again one of
those areas that is taken a deal more seriously than it has in
Mr Mills: In fact, I am addressing
a large group on Thursday of all the environmental interests in
the country to ensure that we deliver on our promises in our bid
Q54 Rosemary McKenna: May I explore
the remit of the Nations and Regions Group? I am certainly taking
some comfort from the fact that Charles Allen, a fellow Scot,
is going to chair that group. I have always supported the bid
on the basis that it is a good thing anyway but that the nations
and regions will benefit. Could you expand a bit on the Nations
and Regions Group and say when they will be in a position to talk
to representatives of the various authorities to begin the process
of establishing where training camps and facilities, et cetera,
Lord Coe: Without labouring my
initial point, we have always viewed this at its best as a UK-wide
project. It was always my view that we would not get public support
for a London Olympic Games unless we were genuinely able to show
that there are UK-wide benefitsthe soft and hard legacy.
The issues that we want to use the Nations and Regions properly
to address are those about sport and the promotion of sport, preparation
camps, business opportunities, tourism, culture and volunteering,
as well and our ability to have a co-ordinated approach UK-wide
to all those things. What we did not want in the bid phase was
for nine different regions and our many centres of excellence
to start going out at that stage to bid for the Canadian team
to go to Sheffield and for Scotland to take the Australians. We
wanted to do this in a co-ordinated way post-bid. We did have
a Nations and Regions structure, which was chaired by Charles
throughout that process. It was very successful in helping us
turn around hearts and minds on this whole project. Now there
is a very clear area of work. Preparation camps are probably as
good an example as anything. I am fond of telling the story: 139
countries based themselves in Australia in the lead-up to the
Sydney Games. Belgium was there for very nearly three years. Craig
Reedie, our IOC colleague sitting behind us, will tell you about
the impact of team GB's presence in Queensland in the lead-up
to the Games. Preparation is not an add-on luxury any longer;
it is an absolutely essential part of delivering Olympians. Our
contributions alone to the local economy were quite sizeable.
I think that when the Australians did a final audit of costs and
benefits, about $80 million was put into the Australian economy,
accounting for teams basing themselves for that period of time.
Something like that is important but there needs to be a co-ordinated
approach. We have centres of excellence throughout the country.
Sport England, for instance, has its EIS in Sheffield. There are
academic-based centres at Loughborough, Birmingham and Bath. All
these would look to wanting to host these teams, but it is also
important, if you have a proper structure for the nations and
regions with a proper representative from the regional sports
boards or from the RDAs and local businesses involved, that this
is a much easier process and a much better structured one. That
is probably the best example I can give you, but there is also
the ability for businesses on a regional basis to know where their
pockets of expertise are and at what times we are going to need
those services if something is locally organised. I went to an
industrial estate in Belfast on a visit to promote the bid and
was introduced to five people in the sports unit who provided
effectively the bulk of the refrigeration needs for the Athens
Olympic Games. There are pockets of excellence and expertise out
there that really should be able to tap into a domestic Games.
Q55 Rosemary McKenna: I already have
businesses in the constituency which are very much involved in
the bid process. I think businesses and local authorities will
seize on that. I have certainly been encouraging my local authority
to be prepared. One of the things that does concern me is the
venues. Will you use venues outside London for specific sports?
For example, Strathclyde Park is the best rowing facility in Europe.
Lord Coe: We will not be using
that. Actually, insofar as the Olympic soccer tournament is a
UK-wide soccer tournament, on the basis that they are able to
get the funding for the new stadium, we will be using the Millennium
Stadium, Cardiff; St James's Park, Newcastle; Hampden Park, Scotland;
and Windsor Park, Belfast. One of the issues for us at the end
of the initial evaluation phase was some of the observations made
by the International Olympic Committee that our venues, even within
the London area, were a little spread apart, so we had to make
some judgments. It is not unusual, of course, for sailing to be
outside the host city. Weymouth is our preferred choice; more
importantly, it is the International Federation's preferred choice,
a world class sailing centre. The sailors amongst us tell me it
is the best place to go. One of the issues we did have to look
at was rowing, which you have mentioned. Eton Dorney is our world
class centre. We looked at the possibility of having rowing a
little closer into London. We thought it was unnecessary to build
a second world class rowing centre so close to the Olympic Park,
so close to the Olympic Games. Our watchword was really excellence
without extravagance and it was difficult to justify two world
class rowing centres within 25 miles of each other as the crow
flies. For instance, we did bring shooting that was at Bisley
into the Olympic Park at Woolwich Barracks. We brought fencing
from Alexandra Palace back into the Olympic Park. Cycling came
from Swanley into a velopark in the Olympic Park. We have made
it, from the initial evaluation through to bid presentation, a
compact Games. That is important because we do not want athletes
being commuters, we want them being competitors. We do not want
them spending hours of their day travelling between venues; we
want them in and out safely. We are able to say now pretty much
80% of competitors will be within 20 minutes' travel time of their
venues and 50% will literally be able to walk five minutes, not
that most competitors walk anywhere.
Q56 Mr Sanders: I doubt there is
a local authority anywhere in the country with councillors who
are elected by and accountable to the people which is not asking
the question, "What can we do to help make these Games a
success? What can we have in our area to take part?" Yet,
in every instance they are finding that the decisions that are
being taken are being taken by quangos of people who are not accountable
to the people. Rosemary has just exampled that as an elected Member
of Parliament who wants something to happen in her constituency
and yet the decisions over that will be taken by people who are
not elected. Is there not a danger there is a democratic deficit
within the preparation for the Games and that is something that
needs to be looked at?
Lord Coe: The bid proposal was
not put together by elected politicians, it was put together by
a bid team, many of the people you see sitting in here, and we
had to make a judgment. First of all the judgment was made by
the British Olympic Association back in 1997 that London was the
appropriate city to chase the Games. Within our own areas of expertise
we had to make a judgment about the vision, how we delivered those
Games and why we were doing it. I think on all those counts those
decisions were made certainly not by elected politicians, they
were made by the people who formed that bid team. That is what
the International Olympic Committee accepted in Singapore and
the spread of our venues was signed off independently by all the
international federations. We will look very closely at every
opportunity to broaden the appeal of the London Olympics and the
benefits to be had at every level of the community throughout
the UK. If you are saying to me are we going to revisit fundamental
issues, like a rowing park, a rowing venue moving from Eton Dorney
up to Strathclyde, the answer is no. We have those venues in place
and we have signed the host city contract and that is now binding.
Q57 Mr Sanders: In relation to training
facilities, for example, there are communities around the country,
either for entire teams or for specific events, where it tends
to be the sports body quango that is determining where that is
happening, not yourselves, somebody that represents that particular
sport is taking the decision.
Lord Coe: In fairness, an organisation
like Nations and Regions will be represented. It is up to all
of those regions to appoint their own representatives who will
make the best case for them.
Q58 Mr Sanders: The British Yachting
Association said that all sailing events must be at Weymouth and
it is now saying that all the training teams should also be at
Lord Coe: No, they are not saying
that at all.
Q59 Mr Sanders: That is the message.
Lord Coe: They are not saying
that at all.
Mr Mills: Perhaps if I could just
clarify. The process of selection of training camps is an issue
for the National Olympic Committees. The 200 National Olympic
Committees all over the world will make their own determinations
as to where they will base their teams. If there is a strong team
from a country that needs to have a rowing facility, for instance,
then I am sure Strathclyde would be on the list.
Lord Coe: Or Holme Pierrepont,
or any of our centres of excellence.
Mr Mills: If you are a strong
sailing nation then frankly you will base yourself somewhere in
the South West because you need to train where you are going to
compete. Each town and city around the UK can look at the facilities
they have, look at the countries that are coming to the UK in
terms of competition and bid for and pitch for the opportunity
to go after individual Olympic trainingno quangos involved
Lord Coe: Some of these sports
are less specific. If you are a track and field nation then you
might decide on the track and field facilities at Bath, Loughborough,
Sheffield or wherever, it is not quite as specific as sailing.
The other important issue is that we have a whole raft of facilities
that can be used at any one stage in that whole build-up process
but it is, as Keith said, for the National Olympic Committees
to make that decision. I have to say nobody would have told Craig
or Simon Clegg from the British Olympic Association that Narromine
was better than Noosa and Noosa better than somewhere on the Queensland
coast of Australia, that was a judgment those guys made.