Swimming-Richards urges IOC to help with tickets after parents scammed


  • Swimming
  • Saturday, 15 Jun 2024

FILE PHOTO: British Olympic Swimmer Matt Richards tests the new Speedo swimsuit, in London, Britain, February 29, 2024. Unveiled as their 'fastest swimsuits', they are lightweight with improved hydrophobic qualities, allowing athletes to perform at peak performance on race day. REUTERS/Matthew Childs/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's Olympic freestyle gold medallist Matt Richards has urged the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to do more to help families of competing athletes attend events at Paris 2024 after his parents lost money in an online ticket scam.

Richards took gold at Tokyo 2020 in the 4x200m freestyle relay and could be competing in six events this summer. He won individual 200m gold at the 2023 world championships in Fukuoka, Japan.

"I do find it crazy that when competing at an Olympic Games, the families of the athletes have to source and fund tickets themselves," Richards posted in an Instagram story addressed to @Olympics.

"My family and I are looking at a bill of thousands of pounds spent on tickets, just to see me swim in a couple of sessions this summer.

"Given that you won't pay the athletes who compete in the event (that creates billions every year in revenue) due to it "not being the Olympic spirit"... do you not think it's time that you support the families of the people competing, by giving them tickets to the events that their family members are competing in?"

Richards then apologised for the 'rant' but said he felt it was a really important subject.

"Seeing your family or friends compete at an Olympic Games shouldn't be reserved for the people that have thousands to spare, who can afford to come and watch," he added.

"I think it's time that (IOC president) Thomas Bach and the IOC start taking care of their athletes and not just their shareholders."

Richard's mother Amanda told the BBC separately that the family had been scammed of 2,500 pounds ($3,170.50) by a ticket website that "looked perfectly legitimate".

They had been unable to afford tickets in the official ballot where only the most expensive, priced at 3,000 euros each, were left by the time they got their turn.

"We couldn't afford to buy tickets for everything he's swimming in but we wanted to be there for sort of the important ones, the semis and the finals, so we bought tickets for five evening events," she said of the scam.

We don't have masses of savings. We just don't have the money to be able to just buy another set of tickets. We're devastated... I was really upset. I feel like a fool."

($1 = 0.7885 pounds)

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Clare Fallon)

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