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SBD Global/July 31, 2012/Olympics

Wembley Concessions Go Cash-Only, Leaving Spectators Hungry, Thirsty, Angry

Fans attending Olympic football games at Wembley Stadium complained of “ridiculous” concession lines after some tills stopped working, according to Neil Lancefield of the London INDEPENDENT. Fans buying concessions during Sunday’s Senegal-Uruguay and Great Britain-UAE matches “were told they could not pay by Visa, the only credit or debit card accepted at London 2012 venues, and must use cash.” The “disgruntled spectators took to Twitter to vent their anger.” One fan wrote, "80,000 people in Wembley Stadium, and the Visa card payment system has broken down -- lot of people without cash going hungry & thirsty!" (INDEPENDENT, 7/30). The London GUARDIAN’s James Meikle noted the crowds attending the games “were left hungry, thirsty and frustrated when Wembley's concessions were unable to accept credit cards.” A Visa spokesperson said, "We understand that Wembley's systems failed and therefore they were only accepting cash at the food and beverage kiosks. This cash only decision was made by Wembley management and not Visa” (GUARDIAN, 7/30). Visa is also using the Olympic venues to “test a new 'cashless' form of payment using mobile phones, which it hopes will render bank notes and coins redundant” (London TELEGRAPH, 7/30).

MAKING A RACKET: YAHOO SPORTS’ Les Carpenter reported several fans during Saturday’s tennis matches at the All England Club “surrounded volunteers working the press areas at Centre Court and shouted complaints about noise.” One woman said, "You can't even hear the ball hit the racquet." Fans said that the noise is “because of the media sections specially built for the Olympics.” During Wimbledon, the media is “kept in a quiet area and radio reporters are not permitted to broadcast updates to their stations unless they are doing it in a soundproof press room.” But the Olympics “don't have such restrictions.” Special press areas were built into the “last several rows of the stands” at Centre Court. The areas are “essentially tables with electrical outlets and internet connections,” and they are not soundproof. The conversations from the media “wafted through the stands and toward the court” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 7/28). Meanwhile, USA TODAY’s Gary Mihoces noted though rain “forced cancellation of most of the Olympic tennis matches Sunday at Wimbledon, there apparently was enough play that it went beyond the limit for fans to qualify for ticket refunds.” Play was delayed at the start, then “halted after about 55 minutes.” Play resumed at 6:45pm local time “on 11 outdoor courts.” LOCOG Deputy Paralympic Wheelchair Tennis Manager Jayant Mistry said, “If it’s less than two hours of play on the outside courts, then we give a full-day’s refund” (USA TODAY, 7/29).
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