Sunday, October 10, 2010

Ticketing Incharge Removed: Probe Ordered

All is obviously not well with the sale of tickets for the ongoing Commonwealth Games. There are too many questions and very few answers.

On Saturday, even as the organizing committee (OC) secretary-general and spokesperson , Lalit Bhanot, tried to play down the issue, reports of tickets and passes being sold in the black market were confirmed with two arrests. The OC also replaced Sanjeev Mittal, in-charge of the ticketing function in the OC, with his junior, Monica Jolly, and simultaneously shifted the ticketing operations out of the OC headquarters to Ashok Hotel.

However, with tickets largely remaining unavailable, the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) chief, Michael Fennell, ordered an independent inquiry into the entire issue. He said the report will come out on Sunday.

The OC, meanwhile, continued to play mum, preferring to talk about the ‘‘great turnout’’ at the venues all over the city. Asked if all tickets were sold out for the Games, Bhanot admitted that only 10 lakh tickets had been sold till date. So why aren’t the rest available to the public? Have they been converted into complimentary passes, as many feared when the rush for the Games started a few days ago?

Bhanot claimed that only 10% of the tickets sold every day were being distributed as complimentary passes. ‘‘Every day, the order for tickets to be printed for the next day are based on the number of tickets unsold the day before. In the beginning, since tickets were not selling, we distributed some regular tickets as complimentary passes,’’ said Bhanot. Interestingly, though, the number of complimentary passes hasn’t been brought down once sales picked up. Bhanot said, instead, more passes are being printed. Yet, tickets remain unavailable even as stands are not quite full.

According to Bhanot, this is not a critical issue. ‘‘The turnouts are getting better...Saturday and Sunday saw almost all venues getting a sizeable crowd. Some tickets may have ended up with touts but we can’t do anything about it,’’ said the secretary-general. Spectators don’t agree. Neither, it seems, does Fennell. Speaking at the daily press briefing, Fennell clearly disagreed, as he said, ‘‘If people go to the ticketing counters and they don’t get tickets, there is a problem.’’

That the issue of complimentary passes is headed for trouble is evident from the fact that many can be seen being sold by touts in the black market.

Sources at the venues claimed that the complimentary passes meant for the families of athletes, stakeholders and other VIPs never reach the venues till midway through the matches.

For instance, in the match at Talkatora Stadium yesterday, featuring Vijender Singh, baskets of complimentary passes were delivered to the venue for distribution more than halfway through the bout. Said an official posted at the venue, ‘‘The passes are of no use when they reach the venue at that time.’’