Olympic torch relay organisers are over 1,000 places short of meeting the promise that over half of Olympic torchbearers would be young people aged 12-24, according to an analysis of data in the official site.
Of just over 7,000 torchbearers published on the site by July 24, only 2,272 – 32% – are under 25. The proportion has remained consistent since details were first published in late May, but even if the other 1,000 torchbearers were under 25, the final proportion would be 40% – still well short of the target set at the relay’s launch.
Two campaigns should have contributed significant numbers to the under 25 total: Coca Cola’s 1300 Future Flames were all supposed to be young people, while 212 places were to go to children at schools in the Get Set Network who would be 12 at the time of the relay. But other campaigns appear to have fallen well short of the youth target.
A spokesperson for LOCOG said:
“We worked hard to try and achieve this aspiration and this is reflected in that fact that the largest proportion of our Torchbearers are below 26-years-of age. People were chosen on merit through the public nomination campaigns rather than their age. It is right that we selected people with the strongest personal best stories and we are very pleased with the team we’ve put together.”
They could not provide details, however, of any oversight put in place, or targets given to partner organisations, to ensure the target was met.
An analysis of Lloyds TSB torchbearer data, for example, suggests that only 27% of torchbearers came from the 12-24 age group category – including eight schools representing 10 people each, some of whom included teachers in their allocation. The figure was only 16% for Bank of Scotland torchbearers.
The data also suggests that other promises have been left unfulfilled: the official site still lacks over 1,500 stories despite the promise of 8,000, while a quarter of places have gone through internal channels despite the claim that 90% of places would be available to the general public.
Sion Simon, a former minister at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, said:
“Locog have comprehensively failed to keep the promises they made about who would carry the torch. They gave assurances about young people, about local heroes and about no nepotism. All have been systematically broken, apparently without shame or sanction. Sponsors have been allowed to use what was supposed to be a ‘people’s privilege’ as just another marketing tool to be bought and sold.
“This is a scandal just as surely as if it were financial. It is ultimately down to the government, who created locog, to see that these questions are publicly answered. Only the Prime Minister can give the public the assurances they seek, and he should.”