VANCOUVER, B.C. - Olympic organizers are allowing a Winnipeg-based tour company to continue selling tickets for the 2010 Winter Games as part of a legal settlement that ends a lawsuit between the two sides.
The 2010 organizing committee launched the suit against Roadtrips Inc. in May, claiming the company was violating Olympic rules by selling tickets to the Games as part of their travel packages, because it was not an authorized reseller.
The tour company responded by saying organizers were unfairly monopolizing ticket sales and that the agreements they claimed governed sales didn't exist.
Among other things, organizers wanted the court to order Roadtrips to disclose the source of their tickets in a bid to crack down on the unauthorized resale of official seats.
They had threatened to invalidate any tickets belonging to sponsors or Olympic officials that ended up in resellers' hands.
While Roadtrips provided the name of a company in the Netherlands as one of their sources, the rest of the case has now been settled out of court.
But now, Roadtrips will obtain their tickets from Jet Set Sports, the official hospitality provider for the Games, said Dave Cobb, deputy chief executive officer of the organizing committee, known as VANOC.
"We can ensure the validity of those tickets, which was our number one reason for talking to Roadtrips and a number of other companies we've talked to about this issue, about having concern that tickets would be out in the marketplace that are not valid," said Cobb.
"So this settlement with Roadtrips achieves that objective."
Dave Guenther, president of Roadtrips, also confirmed the settlement, saying the appropriate documents have been filed in court.
"The terms of the settlement are confidential, and cannot be disclosed. No further comment will be made regarding the matter," Guenther said in an email to The Canadian Press.
As of Wednesday, Roadtrips was offering packages to the Games starting at $4,675 per person, which includes transportation, accommodation and other incentives. It wasn't clear from their website which events they have tickets for and how many.
Jet Set paid a reported $15 million to be the official hospitality provider for the Games, and it's not known how many of their tickets will be going to Roadtrips or how much money is changing hands in the deal.
The company didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.
VANOC launched a similar lawsuit against another company, Coast2Coast Tickets, but there have been no court documents filed since April.
Cobb said in an interview Wednesday that organizers had exceeded their goal of making sure at least 30 per cent of the seats at high-profile events like gold-medal hockey went to the public.
It will now be 40 per cent or higher for those events, and 75 per cent of the 1.6 million tickets available overall will be going to the public.
"We just didn't blindly sell tickets to Olympic family, as has been done in the past without that level of scrutiny on where they are going, how they are using them," said Cobb.
"And we eliminated tens of thousands of tickets that very well could have gone through Olympic family to scalpers."
Still, a number of companies are offering Games tickets for sale online, sometimes for thousands of dollars above face value. Individuals are also already trying to resell their tickets on websites like Craigslist.
VANOC is excepted to launch their own ticket resale site later this year, which will allow sellers to charge more than the original ticket price.
The third and final round of online ticket sales began last Saturday, and there are still about 40,000 thousand tickets available for general sale to the public, including seats at 11 hockey games, 10 curling matches and seven victory ceremonies. VANOC opened its main ticket centre in downtown Vancouver on Wednesday.With three months left until the Games begin, the committee is still looking for at least 750 volunteers with their own accommodation in the Sea to Sky region to work in Whistler, where alpine events will take place.
"Some fantastic positions are still waiting to be filled," John Furlong, chief executive officer, said in the statement.
"We're simply looking for enthusiastic people open to sharing their country and province with the world."
An ambitious secondment program that encourages companies to lend their paid staff to VANOC also appears to have fallen short. Organizers had hoped to get as many as 1500 people loaned to the Games, but only 400 have applied.
They said some companies have instead chosen to pay $7,500 to help sponsor a co-op student to work during the Games.
The committee also announced plans for the "2010 TravelSmart Commuter Challenge," beginning in January.
The campaign will urge people who commute to downtown Vancouver to start leaving their cars at home to "practise" their Games-time travel plans. Most streets in the downtown core will be closed come Games-time to accommodate the influx of up to 200,000 Olympic spectators.
VANOC also announced that board member Rusty Goepel has been named chairman of the board, while the late Jack Poole named founding chairman. Poole died last month just as the Olympic flame was being lit in Greece.