LONDON – Organizers of the 2012 London Olympics said Tuesday they would consider options for new mothers who want to bring their babies into venues, after some parents complained that they have to buy full price tickets for their infants.
The London Organizing Committee made the statement after complaints flooded the British parenting website Mumsnet, with pregnant women who bought tickets for themselves — but not for their unborn children — wondering what they could do with babies who were breast-feeding. They argued that a months-old child would not be taking up a seat of its own.
"Of course we understand that some new mums may want to take their babies to events they have tickets to, and we will look at what we can do when the remaining tickets go on sale in April," the committee said in a statement.
Organizers have said that every child — including newborns carried in a parent's arms — must have their own tickets, in part to keep track of the number of visitors so venue capacity is not exceeded. They said special programs exist to make some tickets more affordable to young people, but those discounts did not apply to all events.
London's ticket policy is similar to that of Vancouver, which hosted the 2010 Winter Olympics. Organizers in the Canadian city used discretion at the gate, however, categorizing parents who brought an infant without a ticket as a child care issue. In other words, parents who appeared with children less than a year old — babes in arms, so to speak — were not turned away.
Many of the mothers who posted on Mumsnet said they're now in a quandary because they had bought Olympic tickets before they became pregnant, or will have newborns by the time of the games.
One of the mothers, Katherine Baker, told The Associated Press that she was frustrated by the lack of clarity in the official policy regarding infants. Baker, 35, said that she and her husband are keen to attend the swimming heats, to which they were allocated tickets before she became pregnant.
She said she now doesn't know what to do because she will have to breast feed the baby during the event. She said she would not mind paying for a third ticket to let their newborn in — but it would be nearly impossible to obtain one for the family to all sit together.
"We'll have to apply for one more ticket and compete against thousands of people again," she said.
Another fuming woman wrote that while she and her husband were lucky enough to get tickets to an equestrian event in August, organizers had told her there are no children's tickets so she will have to pay 95 pounds ($147) for a three-month old in a sling.
The latest ticket gaffe is expected to boomerang unhappily on London organizers. Tickets issues of all kinds have dogged the London Olympics as demand for seats at events from July 27-Aug. 12 has far outstripped supply.
Edward Parkinson, United Kingdom director of the ticket resale site Viagogo, said he was somewhat surprised by the organizers' policy that even newborns need tickets.
He compared the Olympics to music festivals, where parents are given concessions for children. In some cases organizers allow children under a certain age to get in for free.
Associated Press writer Sylvia Hui contributed to this report.