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Council sees light over Torch parade
EVERYONE in the county will be able to apply for tickets for Oxford’s Olympic Torch celebration event after a change of heart by organisers.
When tickets for a music and dance extravaganza in South Park on July 9 were released by Oxford City Council last week, they were initially only available for Oxford city postcodes.
That meant anyone from outside of the city would not be able to apply for any of the 20,000 free tickets, despite it being the biggest event in the county’s Olympic celebrations.
But last night council leader Bob Price said as only about 9,000 have been given out, the rest would be made available to the rest of the county – most likely tomorrow.
He said city residents were given priority as their council was paying for the event.
If the council, which is stumping up £100,000 for the show and relay, had maintained the resident-only policy, it would have meant torch bearers who lived in the county would not have been able to attend the party.
That included Becci Berry, who lives in Coleshill near Faringdon. She carried the torch through Chiseldon, near Swindon, on Wednesday, May 23.
The 39-year-old said it was more than 60 years since the country last hosted the games, adding: “Every event we have associated with it should be celebrated by as many people as possible.”
Air Cadet volunteer Mo Merchant, 70, from Wantage, who will carry the flame through Nettlebed, said: “A lot of people would have been disappointed. It is supposed to be the people’s games.”
Joe Robinson, 21, from Thame, will run with the torch through Theale in Berkshire on July 11.
He has raised thousands of pounds for John Radcliffe Hospital after receiving treatment following a car crash.
He said: “It would have been a shame if not everybody from Oxfordshire could go. So it’s fantastic they made it more accessible.”
Lord Mayor of Oxford Alan Armitage said: “We are the county town, people look to us and I am happy we can give them the opportunity to come and enjoy Oxford.”
Rock band Young Guns, Britain’s Got Talent finalists Twist and Pulse, and hundreds of performers from the region will take part in the show, which starts at 5pm.
Some 50 people, plus 22 Americans flown in by games sponsor Coca Cola, will carry the flame through ten county towns on July 9 and 10.
To get tickets for the show at South Park on July 9, visit ticketmaster.co.uk or call 0844 844 0444.
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