Olympic officials deny Greek ticket ‘boasts’

LONDON (AP) — Olympics organizers denied Sunday that a top Greek official had persuaded London officials to allocate his country extra premium tickets by spurious means — one of several charges in a scandal over alleged black market Olympic ticket sales involving more than 50 countries.

The International Olympic Committee announced Saturday that it was investigating claims of improper ticket sales after a news report alleged that national Olympic committees and official agents have been offering tickets for the July 27-Aug. 12 games — including hot events such as the men’s 100m final — on the black market at vastly inflated prices.

Britain’s Sunday Times said its undercover reporters posed as illegal ticket sellers from the Middle East and caught officials red-handed. The IOC called an emergency meeting of its executive board Saturday after the paper presented it with a dossier of evidence on 27 officials controlling the tickets for 54 countries.

Among other claims, the paper alleged that Spyros Capralos, the Greek Olympic Committee president, said he had “pulled strings” with London organizing chairman Sebastian Coe to obtain the extra top-priced tickets on the pretext that demand in Greece outstripped expectations.

The paper said Capralos admitted that demand had been very low in reality, and that the tickets were subsequently sold on to people outside Greece for profit.

The London organizing committee said Capralos’ alleged boasts of discussions with Coe were untrue.

Coe had told the Greek Olympic Committee that tickets were allocated in accordance with IOC ticketing policy, it said. “There was no further contact — either formal or informal — on this subject,” it said in a statement.

Capralos, one of the most senior officials during the 2004 Athens Games, was not immediately reachable for comment.

IOC rules forbid member national committees from selling tickets abroad, inflating ticket prices or selling tickets to unauthorized resellers.

The IOC said in a statement on its website Saturday that it “takes these allegations very seriously and has immediately taken the first steps to investigate.”

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