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The organisers of the London Olympics have been drawn into further controversy after it emerged that around 150,000 tickets marketed to Britons were snapped up by other European Union residents.

People in other EU countries obtained just under 5% of the three million tickets which went on sale in the first round ballot, the London 2012 Organising Committee (LOCOG) confirmed.

EU law meant they were free to apply for the tickets, despite being allocated their own batch of seats.

Priti Patel, the Conservative MP for Witham, Essex, told the Sunday Telegraph: "British taxpayers and Londoners who have paid through their taxes to fund the Games will be alarmed and hugely disappointed to see they were not given priority on tickets when they went on sale. The system is a farce."

Alison Seabeck, the Labour MP for Plymouth Moor View, agreed some people will feel "rightly aggrieved that they won't be able to share in this fantastic event".

The figures do not include the second round sale of 2.3 million tickets which began on Friday.


A LOCOG spokeswoman said: "Over 95% of the tickets sold in the first round went to the British public. We didn't market the tickets outside the UK, but EU law means we cant restrict their sale within the EU based on where people live. Lots of Britons have been trying to buy tickets through agents in Europe, so it works both ways."

On Saturday, it was revealed that the organisers are planning to bar some residents of Weymouth from seeing sailing action for free by fencing off a public park in the Dorset town for "safety and crowd-control" reasons.

But that was branded "nonsense" by John Burtwistle, the area's Lib Dem Weymouth and Portland Borough councillor, who is leading opposition to the move.

"When the award of the Olympics to London was first made the councils involved down here said they would do everything in their power to promote the games," he said. "That seems to have been interpreted as allowing LOCOG and the Olympic Delivery Authority to do what they like. The bottom line is that they are trying to make Olympic sailing a pay-per-view event in Weymouth."


Photo by belfastcitycouncil, Press Association