LONDON -- A British newspaper report Sunday alleged that national Olympic committees and official agents in more than 50 countries were involved in selling London Olympics tickets on the black market, prompting officials to launch an investigation.
The International Olympic Committee convened an emergency session Saturday to discuss a dossier of evidence presented to them by the Sunday Times, which claimed that officials 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.
Among the most damaging claims were the paper's allegations about Spyros Capralos, the Greek Olympic Committee president and top organizer for the 2004 Athens Olympics. He was quoted as saying he had "pulled strings" with London organizing chairman Sebastian Coe to obtain an extra batch of premium 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 many of the tickets were subsequently sold for profit to people outside Greece.
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," the organizing committee said in a statement.
Capralos was not immediately reachable for comment. A Greek Olympic Committee official, speaking on condition of anonymity with the investigation going on, denied that anything untoward had taken place.
IOC rules forbid member national committees to sell tickets abroad, inflating ticket prices or selling tickets to unauthorized resellers.
But the Sunday Times said its undercover reporters, who posed as illegal ticket sellers from the Middle East, caught officials red-handed. It said it has presented the IOC with a dossier of evidence on 27 officials controlling the tickets for 54 countries.
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."
The report was the latest in a string of similar allegations. In May, a top Ukrainian Olympic official resigned following allegations that he offered to sell thousands of dollars' worth of tickets for the London Games on the black market.