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Tuesday, April 4, 2000
Souvenir tickets too big for venue turnstiles

 SYDNEY, Australia (AP) -- Organizers of the Sydney 2000 Olympics have triggered another ticketing fiasco after admitting that oversized souvenir tickets wouldn't fit into turnstiles at most Games venues.
 
 SOCOG had copied organizers of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics by producing the large souvenir tickets but made two major mistakes, the Sydney Morning Herald reported Wednesday.
 
 The tickets were too big for turnstiles and were not barcoded which renders scanners useless. The tickets cannot be canceled or replaced, which compounds security problems if the tickets were lost, stolen or damaged.
 
 Olympics minister and SOCOG president Michael Knight told New South Wales parliament Tuesday of two "unintended consequences" of making a "fundamental error in adopting the Atlanta model of Olympic ticketing."
 
 "The magnitude, sensitivity and potential for errors in this complex process should not be underestimated. Consequently they have to be treated with much greater security."
 
 Millions of tickets in the first batch to be delivered to ticketholders could be affected. SOCOG said regular tickets would fit into turnstiles.
 
 UPS, a worldwide Olympic sponsor which earlier this year relinquished its right to deliver Olympic tickets within Australia, had the technology to scan the souvenir tickets, the Herald reported. The new domestic distributor, TNT, does not.
 
 With 162 days remaining until the Sept. 15 opening ceremony, Olympics organizers face another crisis.
 
 SOCOG was heavily criticized late last year when its secret premium ticket scheme was revealed to the general public, which at that stage could only acquire seats by entering an oversubscribed Olympic ticket ballot.
 
 Thousands of unsuccessful applicants were then forced to wait months after the ballot for a refund because their refund checks were mistakenly not printed. At the time, SOCOG said the checks were delayed due to heavy demand on mail services around Christmas.
 
 SOCOG's credibility suffered another blow this year when organizers projected a ticket revenue shortfall after admitting to miscalculating the number of tickets for the various venues.
 
 Knight said it would have been "silly" not to expect ticketing problems. Of the previous debacles, he said SOCOG had been "justly criticized."
 
 Last month, a plan to sell 730,000 cheap tickets to school children was overshadowed by criticism from teachers and administration staff at many schools who refused to act as ticket agents.
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