London 2012: you don’t have to pay – if you’re a billionaire


He pays nothing

You can say what you like about the Olympics, but at least (unlike past Games) the events are free.

Now, don’t be silly, of course the proles have to pay to get in. And if you want to do one of the really fancy things, like book the Olympic Torch relay for 2 days as the ultimate corporate bonding exercise, London is charging heavily for that privilege. Thankfully.

The Games are only cash-less if you’re one of the richest men in the world. And then they come absolutely without charge.

This must come as a tremendous relief to the steel billionaire, Lakshmi Mittal, who famously had to spend several million dollars purchasing last minute spaces for Athens 2004 (that’s the problem with having a private yacht the size of a small city, sufficiently large mooring slots are in short supply) and Beijing 2008. A reporter was in the background when Mittal’s people made contact with Olympic uber-tout Sead Dizdarevic:

“Though the Mittals want to attend just the first four days of the Games, Dizdarevic recommends that ArcelorMittal lock in packages for the entire period to ensure premium access. Jet Set can meet their plane at the airport, he says, but the private jet will have to land under Jet Set’s auspices because, during the Games, Beijing is only accepting the private planes of Olympic officials, heads of state, and official sponsors like Jet Set.”

How fortunate then to note that LOCOG have given Lakshmi Mittal and his son the chance to run around London carrying the Olympic flame:

“ArcelorMittal, another organisation supporting the Olympics, was given six torchbearer slots. Two of these went to the company’s founder, Lakshmi Mittal, the world’s 21st richest man according to Forbes magazine, and his son Aditya, the group’s chief financial officer.”

That’s right, ArcelorMittal was given the torchbearer slots: if you’re a billionaire you get to indulge your Olympic fantasies, not for a pound, not for a penny, but free.


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