With just six months to go until the opening of the world’s greatest sporting event in London, it has been revealed that those attending the closing ceremony will be unable to buy any official merchandise at the event.
It is understood that the Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt was informed of the news a few weeks ago, too late to be capable of doing anything to change the situation.
The situation has arisen because the closing ceremony falls on a Sunday, and is therefore subject to trading laws which mean that large retailers can only open for restricted hours on a Sunday.
A spokesman for the London 2012 organisation LOCOG said: “We are subject to the law like any other organisation or event and that law states that, subject to certain exceptions, retail outlets larger than 280 sq m (3,014 sq ft) can trade for six hours between 10am and 6pm on a Sunday.”
The closing ceremony will be an evening event, taking it outside these hours.
The main megastore selling Olympic merchandise on the site of the closing ceremony is some 40,000 sq ft and will therefore not be open past 6pm. There are two other superstores in the Olympic Park, but at 8,000 sq ft each, they will also be subject to the restriction.
Organisers are now discussing the possibility to opening a series of smaller stores which would bypass the trading regulations, ensuring that fans have access to merchandise and memorabilia on the day.
“We are currently discussing the operation of our stores within this legal framework. We will have smaller outlets open on Sundays in and around venues and of course our online shop is open 24 hours a day,” added the LOCOG spokesman.
The Sunday Trading Act 1994 restricts the amount of time that large stores can be open for trade on a Sunday.
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