Organisers of the 2012 London Olympic Games have been left red-faced by the revelation in the British media that Libyan officials have received hundreds of tickets to the event.
In an article by the Daily Telegraph, it emerged that the group overseeing the Games is obliged to sell tickets to the Gaddafi regime as the International Olympic Committee (IOC) failed to get Libya expelled despite the on-going conflict and NATO bombardments. The Libyan Olympic Committee, which was allocated almost 1,000 tickets, is headed by Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s eldest son, Muhammad.
It raised some fears that if Gaddafi manages to hold onto power until next summer, he could cause the British government a massive diplomatic headache by attending. The Daily Telegraph adds that Muhammad al-Gaddafi is “free to begin selling (the tickets) at a 20 percent mark-up and handing them out to trusted members of his father’s entourage”.
The news was especially frustrating for nearly one million Britons who tried and failed to get their hands on Olympic tickets through a lottery system.
But the British government insists there is no chance of Gaddafi entering the country. The newspaper quotes a spokesman for Prime Minister David Cameron as saying: “The fact is that Gaddafi, his family and key members of that regime are subject to a travel ban and won’t be allowed to travel here to the Olympics in any event.” The spokesman added that the decision to sell tickets to Libya was made by the IOC and not by officials in Britain.
Zimbabwe and Myanmar are other states that have been allocated tickets despite widespread criticism over their human rights records. Syria, reports the Telegraph, was eligible but did not apply for tickets.