Shooting events will not be excluded from ticket scheme
Officials from the London 2012 Olympics and the Mayor of London?s office have rubbished press reports that children will be banned from watching shooting events as part of the free Olympics ticket scheme.
An article in the London Evening Standard said that shooting had been excluded from the Ticketshare scheme as Games organisers and City Hall fear a backlash from the anti-gun lobby.
It went on to say that giving children tickets to the events could have appeared at odds with Mayor of London Boris Johnson?s bid to quell teenage gun and knife crime.
However, Mr Johnson told Shooting Times that he did not support a ban on tickets for shooting or any other Olympic or Paralympic sports.
He said: ?It?s my view that if a school pupil can watch a sport on television they should be able to do it in our fantastic Olympic venues.?
Mr Johnson continued, ?With more than 100,000 tickets available for the shooting events, which sold out very quickly, I have no doubt that the London 2012 Games will raise the profiles of these demanding and tense sports in the UK, and beyond.?
Shooting Times also contacted the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG).
Their spokeswoman commented: ?We have no problems whatsoever with children going to shooting, and this is borne out by the discounts we offered to children in our ticketing programme.?
?There have always been shooting tickets in the Ticketshare scheme, but there aren?t that many because the shooting is in quite a small venue and the sport has sold out. Schools didn?t seem to want the tickets, and other organizations within Ticketshare really wanted them, so we thought we?d just redirect them to organisations that want them the most.?
?There?s no ban from us on kids going to see shooting, absolutely no way, and if a school says to us that they really want shooting tickets, we will give the tickets to the school, providing they are still available.?
Pressure groups seized on the original Evening Standard article, which was based entirely on a quote from an unnamed source.
The League Against Cruel Sports (LACS) reacted quickly to the article, referring to Boris Johnson?s ?decision? as ?brave and principled?.
Chief executive of LACS, Joe Duckworth, said: ?Sport shouldn?t involve the use of a weapon designed to kill. It?s a shame that shooting features in the Olympics at all. There are so many wonderful sports in the world that are rooted in good, honest recreation rather than in the use of killing machines.?
As Shooting Times went to press, the LACS press release could still be viewed at www.league.org.uk
LACS had even resorted to cryptic references to Tony Benn, signposts and weathercocks in order to support its position.
David Taylor, shooting campaign manager for the Countryside Alliance, said: ?With the Olympics around the corner, we need to be encouraging youngsters into our sport. Legitimate shooting has no connection with gun crime. It is encouraging that the Mayor?s office understands this distinction and has been so quick to rubbish this story.?
A BASC spokesman said: ?It appears this was a classic silly season story. BASC spoke to the Evening Standard, BBC London and to LBC Radio. Shooting put up a robust defence of our Olympic hopefuls and we were pleased to see so many supporters of shooting making their views known.?