The president of British Cycling has called on Olympic Games organisers LOCOG to rethink proposals to charge spectators to watch this summer’s Olympic road races on Box Hill. The news comes as plans are unveiled to let those without tickets for Olympic venues watch events on giant screens within the Olympic Park as well as other locations in the capital.
As reported here on road.cc last week, LOCOG is considering charging the 15,000 people who will be allowed onto the restricted section of Box Hill, which is owned by the National Trust.
The section of the route in question features the climb of Zig-Zag Road which will be tackled nine times in the men's road race and twice in the women's race.
British Cycling president Brian Cookson told The Daily Telegraph: “It would be absolutely better if it was free of charge because cycling is a sport that is traditionally free to watch.
"I do appreciate the difficult environmental issues that have to be resolved in the sensitive environment of Box Hill, and you can't have an unrestricted free-for-all like the Tour de France,” he acknowledged.
“But while the numbers have to be managed, it would be absolutely better if it was free of charge."
However, LOCOG chief executive Paul Deighton has said he believes it is “perfectly appropriate... to consider charging for the tickets," adding that the mechanics of ticketing, including their cost, were still being worked upon.
LOCOG is also finalising plans to allow public access to the Olympic Park during the Games, although again there will be a restriction on numbers and there is likely to be a cost involved, reports the BBC.
Once inside, spectators will be able to watch events on giant screens, the biggest of which will be double-sided and installed on a barge on the River Lea.
Hyde Park in Central London and Victoria Park in Tower Hamlets will also house big screens, with free entry – other than to watch the opening and closing ceremonies in Hyde Park – although at both venues, spectator numbers will be restricted.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.