Band ‘devastated’ by Olympics red tape

The 35 band members are "devastated" that they can't play at the Olympic Park.
The 35 band members are "devastated" that they can't play at the Olympic Park.

Young musicians from Harrogate have been left “devastated” after they missed out on a chance to play at the Olympic Games in London.

Tewit Youth Band had been invited to play at the Olympic Park in London and its leaders were keen to go ahead, even footing the £800 transport bill to get all 35 members there.

But when the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG) said each musician had to be there the day before they played, to collect their passes, the plans fell apart.

Band president Colin Gibbs said: “There is no way the band could afford to travel down, book and pay for accommodation, if they could find any, for the privilege of playing at the Olympic Park.

“A suggestion that one person could travel down the day before to collect all the passes was rejected by LOCOG.

“We were also prepared to journey down very early on the day to pick up passes many hours before our performance time, but this practical and achievable suggestion was not acceptable.”

Mr Gibbs questioned why the band members were being forced to have accreditation passes, which have been issued to people volunteering for the whole Games and were valid until November 8. He wrote to Lord Sebastian Coe, chairman of LOCOG, in June, asking for the matter to be investigated, but has not had a response.

“This whole episode has been a complete and utter shambles from beginning to end,” he wrote.

“Our young band members were so looking forward to this chance to become involved and are now devastated by the outcome.”

Mike Clark, managing director of Educational Cultural Exchanges, which was dealing with the band on behalf of LOCOG, said: “ECE knows and respects the talent of Tewit Youth Band and, having backed the group’s involvement from the start, is saddened to hear that their ability to attend has been affected by the processes relating to Olympic Park performances.

“However, these regulations are necessary for the safety and security of all involved. All bands, visitors, event staff and even athletes are subject to the same rules laid out by the Home Office and UK Border Control to ensure the Olympics is safe and something we can all be proud of.”