LONDON Mayor Boris Johnson and 2012 Olympic boss Lord Seb Coe visited a Finchley school today to launch a scheme aimed at giving thousands of free tickets to pupils.
Around 125,000 tickets will be handed out to schools to distribute “as they see fit” as part of theGet Set programme, which aims to get youngsters involved with next year's Games.
During the visit Mr Johnson played a game of table tennis against a pupil and then Lord Coe and saw some of the sports done by the students at the specialist sports college in North Finchley.
Mr Johnson said: “It means one school child in eight will be able to enjoy and Olympic or Paralympic events for free. It's up to the schools to decide who will go.
“We didn't want to give tickets to every child as it would devalue the rest of the tickets. We want to make sure all our venues are full and the sports are enjoyed by as many people as possible.
“This is one way to ensure all Londoners get benefit from the games.”
Today money is starting to be taken from the accounts of people lucky enough to get tickets allocated following the application process which closed last month.
Mr Johnson admitted it was an “unusual” process, with people not being told which tickets they have won.
But he added: “Some people will be despondent about the allocation and not getting tickets, but not all events are sold out and there will be another chance to apply.”
He also said there were benefits to the games for people living in Barnet, who have paid a levy on their council tax to fund them, despite no events being held here.
The cycling road race which was due to pass through Hampstead Garden Suburb has been moved to west and central London so more famous landmarks can be included.
Mr Johnson told the Times Series: “People from Barnet will be able to come down and get into the Olympic Park and buy tickets on the day which are left over.
“There will also be big screens set up around London where they can go to soak up the atmosphere.”
Pupil Emily Casey-Haworth, 16, who lives in Holly Park, said she was enthusiastic about the prospects of getting free tickets.
She said: “My mum has already volunteered, so it would be great to get some tickets myself. It's good everyone's got a chance no matter how much money they've got.
“We have already done a lot at school around the Olympics, we've had junior schools coming in for sports days and the chance to try other sports we wouldn't have before.
“There have even been geography projects about the impact it's having on east London. A lot of people here are very excited about it being in our country and our city.”