Why can I only use a VISA Card to buy tickets for the London Olympics?

The 2012 London Olympics

The 2012 London Olympics is an event which is coordinated by the two following bodies:

  • The International Olympic Committee (IOC) – the world governing body for the Olympics
  • The London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) – the organising committee for the event when it is held in London

The Ticketing for the 2012 London Olympics

The two bodies mentioned above will be the two bodies which coordinate all aspects of the ticketing side of the event. For example they will decide on the allocations of tickets to various groups and the channels through which the general public will be able to gain access to the tickets.

The Official Sponsors of the 2012 Olympic Games

There are various sponsors of the Olympic Games when it is to be held in London. These companies will have paid vast amount of sums for the privilege to be associated with the event on an exclusive basis.

What is meant by an exclusive basis?

The meaning of an exclusive basis is that the specific sponsor will be the only sponsor which is able to supply their goods to the individuals attending the event. For example if the event is sponsored by a drinks company then that company will be the only one which is able to provide drinks on site to the individual’s attending the event. They are effectively paying for the right for their product to be sold and excluding their competitors to the market.

Is VISA an official sponsor of the 2012 London Olympics?

VISA is one of the official sponsors of the 2012 London Olympics.

What does this mean?

As VISA will wish to gain exclusivity for the use of their products following the sponsorship agreement it follows that UK based fans will only be able to buy tickets for the games using VISA’s payment system. Furthermore when fans are actually at the event the only credit or debit card which they will be able to use for the event is one supplied by VISA.

Is this system fair?

Many consumers would argue that this system is simply not fair as it is restricting the availability of tickets to those people who have a VISA card meaning that if individuals do not have a card they only way to get tickets would be to first obtain a VISA card. This seems immediately unfair.

However, this does have to be balanced against the needs of the company who have paid substantial amounts in sponsorship fees for the event in order to be associated with it. If the credit and debit cards of their competitors could be used then this would weaken the rights of their sponsorship agreement.

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For more information on:

  • Is it legal for conditions such as this to be imposed on consumers?
  • On what grounds could a legal case be found?
  • Which aspect of competition law could this be in breach of?
  • Would this fall within either Article 81 or Chapter 1?
  • Is a challenge likely to be brought by the Office of Fair Trading?