LONDON - Former Israeli Olympic swimmer and general manager of ticket company Issta Sport, Yoav Bruk, has been recorded offering to sell tickets to events at the London Olympic Games on black market terms.
Bruk, who is a licensed ticket seller in Israel and Cyprus, was filmed and recorded by reporters from the Sunday Times as part of a widespread investigation that uncovered senior officials in national Olympic committees and authorized ticket sellers around the world, who were selling thousands of tickets to the most sought-after Olympic events against the regulations.
Reporters from the Sunday Times Insight investigative reporting team uncovered attempts to sell tickets from the allocations of 54 nations. The investigation was launched following widespread complaints in Britain and other countries regarding the difficulty of obtaining tickets that were supposed to be put on sale through the internet on an equal basis. Following the revelations, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has ordered an internal investigation.
In addition to the revelations regarding Israel, similar practices have been revealed in China, Greece (where the local president of the Olympic committee was himself selling tickets), Serbia, Lithuania and throughout the Americas. According to IOC rules, each country receives an allocation of tickets, and local sellers are forbidden to market them to other countries.
The Sunday Times investigators posed as representatives of a Middle Eastern country and contacted Bruk, who represented Israel in swimming events at three Olympic games, through officials in the Serbian Olympic committee who agreed to sell them tickets that had been allocated to their company. Two weeks ago, Bruk arrived in London to receive additional tickets that were to go on sale by Issta in Israel and Cyprus and met the reporters at local hotel. He was filmed and recorded by them.
According to the newspaper, Bruk said that "the Olympics is very tricky in England. The media is – everybody's like paralyzed. They're afraid to talk to people just because you get a 20,000 pound penalty for selling on the black market." He agreed to sell them tickets through a fund in Lichtenstein, since as an authorized seller in European Union member Cyprus, he could transfer them to another European country. He offered them 525 tickets in the top categories, including 26 tickets in the best seats for the 100 meter dash finals, as well as tickets to the final stages of boxing, basketball and women's volleyball events.
The report further revealed that in order to push up the prices, Bruk proposed to sell them along with cheap hotel rooms, and the price was three times the tickets face-value. "I'm being very cautious, I'm doing a multi-million Dollar project and I'm not going to risk my business… and obviously it has to be a European body who is buying because we're allowed to sell in Europe," he said. According to the Sunday Times, Bruk agreed to sell the tickets for 66 thousand pounds (NIS 400,000) and when the reporters told him they were meant for an Arab customer, he said "Yeah. Whatever you do on your side is fine with me."
In addition to Bruk, representatives of official ticket agencies in China, Serbia, Lithuania and the international ticket retailer Cartan Tours offered the reporters tickets, as did officials in the national Olympic committees including Spyros Capralos, the president of Greece's Olympic committee. They also met with representatives of countries which were interested in buying tickets, in addition to their national allocations such as the secretary general of the Saudi Olympic committee.
In the wake of the report, the IOC announced that it had ordered an “immediate inquiry and referred the allegations to its independent ethics commission."
In response, Issta Sport stated that "it is a hurried and unreliable journalistic investigation on Issta Sport, and its license to sell Olympic tickets in Cyprus. The company confirms to the conditions and rules of organizing committee, has resolutely enforced them and will continue to do so in the future. The company never offered a service that does not comply with the conditions and rules of IOC and all its commercial actions are fully backed up by the Olympics organizing committee."
The Israeli Olympic Committee said that Issta Sport signed an agreement with the Olympic games organizing committee in London which details all the conditions, requirements and limitations. “We have no doubt that before signing this agreement, Issta Sport studied the conditions of the agreement and assume that it acted accordingly. The IOC has announced that it examine the allegations. The Israeli Olympic Committee will act in accordance with instructions it will received from the IOC.”