Ticketed for scandal

JOHN HOWSE October 20 1986

Ticketed for scandal

JOHN HOWSE October 20 1986

Ticketed for scandal

The scheme was deceptively simple, but the fallout threatened to damage the Calgary Olympic Organizing Committee's (oco) reputa tion. Last week authorities discovered that about 8,000 Olympic ticket appli cation forms for the 1988 Winter Games had been mailed to U.S. ad dresses containing return envelopes to a Calgary company, not the OCO's offi cial ticket office. Also included was a request to make ticket payments in U.S. dollars-contrary to the Olympic committee's Canadian funds-only poli cy. And officials were investigating

why an additional 270,000 order forms, scheduled to have been distributed in the United States on Sept. 30, were still in a New York City warehouse last week. Acknowledged Jerry Joynt, communications vice-president for the OCO's organizing committee: "We've taken a couple of steps backwards." After fielding questions from U.S. residents who had received the modi fied forms, oco executives last week alerted the Calgary fraud squad. Then, they placed ticket manager James McGregor on a month-long paid leave of absence. According to an Alberta government spokesman, McGregor owns 99 per cent of World Ticket, Inc., the company name printed on the re turn envelopes. The firm's directors: McGregor's wife, Susan, and his broth er, Nesbitt. A spokesman for Visa, the Games' official ticket credit card, sug gested that the purpose of the appar ent fraud may have been to intercept the tickets and pocket the difference between the exchange rates on the Ca nadian and U.S dollar-about 38 per cent. Said the spokesman: "There's quite an amount of money involved." Already, the oco has hired auditors Coopers & Lybrand to review the tick et sales program and to investigate why Visa, the official ticket distribu tor, failed to forward 270,000 order forms to American outlets. Visa's ex planation for the delay: the OCO ticket forms had to be reprinted because the originals included insufficient space for the 16-digit U.S. Visa charge number. For its part, the OCO continued to maintain that tickets would be issued on a first-come, first-served basis. But in the wake of the scandal, Joynt said that the committee may mount an ad vertising campaign aimed at counter balancing all the negative publicity.

-JOHN HOWSE in Calgary