2:38pm Saturday 16th October 2010
By Matt Watts
Tens of thousands of free tickets to the 2012 Olympics will be given to schoolchildren across south London.
A total of 125,000 tickets for the Games will be available for pupils throughout the capital, it was announced yesterday.
Organisers will pay for 50,000 pupils, while Mayor Boris Johnson has promised to find funding for the other 75,000 through sponsorship deals.
Tickets will be distributed by schools to pupils they feel most deserve them.
Olympics minister Hugh Robertson said schools taking part in London 2012's Get Set education network and an Olympic and Paralympic-style schools sports competition would be "at the front of the queue" when tickets are distributed.
Nearly 60 per cent of London schools are currently signed up to the programme and it is expected that the ticket offer will help boost participation of schools in Get Set to nearly 100 per cent.
The deal will mean one in eight pupils age 10 to 18 will get the chance to watch the Olympic and Paralympic games for free.
Sebastian Coe, chairman of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG), said: "It will be for London schools to decide exactly how to distribute the tickets among their pupils.
"However, LOCOG and the Greater London Authority will work with Get Set schools to devise initiatives whereby academic, sporting or other achievements can be rewarded.
"Both organisations will also work with schools to ensure that those pupils who receive tickets are encouraged to strive towards their personal best and demonstrate their understanding of the Olympic and Paralympic values in doing so."
The announcement made yesterday was seen by some as an attempt to deflect criticism at the Games' organisers for the high pricing of tickets that will go on general sale in March.
Tickets for the mens' 100m final will cost up to £725. The cheapest tickets, that will only be available for a limited number of events, will be £20.
It is unclear when schools will receive tickets, but the majority of tickets for paying customers will go on sale next March.
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