Families of New Zealand's Olympic swimmers face missing out on their dates with destiny under a ruling from Games organisers.
Under Olympic rules designed to guarantee families access to the events, athletes are usually entitled to two tickets each for their events, but swimming allocations for the London Games have been restricted to one each "due to demand and supply in the small swimming venue".
A statement from the families of Kiwi swimmers said the argument was ridiculous.
"To provide two family tickets for evening sessions would require only 200 tickets to be allocated for all competitors from all countries ... To our knowledge, the stadium holds 5000 to 6000."
The statement goes on to say that the "realisation that a mother and father will have to toss a coin to see who can witness it is a ridiculous situation to have allowed to develop. Someone commented that it's like having to wait outside the church at your own son or daughter's wedding."
Family of medal hopefuls such as champion breaststroker Glenn Snyders and Wellington backstroke star Gareth Kean said they were told this week that they would be allowed to buy only one ticket.
Neville and Sally Kean will be travelling to London to watch their son compete and were lucky enough to score tickets through the ballot system available to the general public. But Mr Kean said he was disappointed for families of other swimmers who could not get more than one ticket.
He said the main problem was one of late notice. "Where there is limited seating they should have at least allocated or satisfied the needs, at market value ... to the competitors' families first."
Snyders' parents, Sue and Barry, have gone as far as purchasing hockey tickets just to guarantee access to Olympic Park so they can be close to their son.
After spending about $10,000 on travel and accommodation, Mrs Snyders said either she and her husband would have to take turns, or they could watch it together on television in London.
"The team was confirmed in March/April and most parents have made the decision to go. A lot of us are leaving in three weeks' time and it's too late now.
"It's very disappointing. He is ranked very highly this time and the possibility of him going through is good, which makes it all the more annoying."
A New Zealand Olympic Committee spokeswoman said the decision had been made by Games organisers in London, and it sympathised with the swimming families.
"Families have also been able to purchase general access tickets and the New Zealand Olympic Committee has worked very hard to deliver these to athletes' families on request.
"We are comfortable we have done everything within our power to secure the highest number of tickets possible."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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