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Olympics: Sponsors help London organizers to balance books

A flaming phoenix flies above the Olympic flame during the closing ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium August 1
A flaming phoenix flies above the Olympic flame during the closing ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium August 1

By Keith Weir

LONDON (Reuters) - Sponsorship deals and record revenues from the sale of almost 11 million tickets helped London organizers to hit their target of raising 2.4 billion pounds ($3.8 billion) to stage the Olympics and Paralympics.

The income covered the core costs of putting on the world's largest sporting event, said Paul Deighton, the former Goldman Sachs banker who served as chief executive of the London Organising Committee (LOCOG) for the Games in July and August.

The British government separately provided almost nine billion pounds of public money to build and provide security for the venues in east London for the Games.

"Throughout this period we have made clear our aim for LOCOG to break even, and we remain confident that our revenues will meet our costs," Deighton said in a written submission to the London Assembly released on Tuesday.

The success of the London Games has earned Deighton a position with the finance ministry overseeing delivery of infrastructure projects. He will take up the role at the start of next year.

London organizers raised almost 750 million pounds through domestic sponsorship deals with more than 40 businesses including oil company BP, British Airways and telecoms company BT.

That was almost on a par with the sum reported by Beijing after it hosted the Games in 2008 and almost four times what Athens generated in 2004, the last time the summer Games were in Europe.

Revenue from ticket sales also topped forecasts at a record 659 million pounds after near sell-outs crowds for both the Olympics and Paralympics.

The fact that any tickets were left over will irk some Britons who were unable to get in to see live action after missing out in an initial ballot for seats.

The majority of more than 300,000 unsold tickets were for early rounds of Olympic soccer, LOCOG said.

It also said it had made thousands of free tickets available to students, soldiers and volunteers after embarrassing gaps appeared in the areas reserved for media, athletes and officials early in the Olympics.

The previous highest figure raised from ticket sales was $551 million generated by Sydney in 2000.

($1 = 0.6302 British pounds)

(Writing by Keith Weir, Editing by Clare Fallon)