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London 2012: BBC Staff to Outweigh U.K. Athletes at Summer Olympics

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The BBC director of the games says 765 staff have passes, compared with 493 for the Beijing Games four years ago and an estimated 550 British athletes.

LONDON – There will likely be more accredited BBC staff for this summer’s Olympic Games than competing British athletes.

The pubcaster has dished out passes to 765 staff to cover London 2012, up from the 493 that worked for the Corporation on the Beijing Games.

At least there won’t be as many airplane tickets to buy. For the Games in China, the BBC flew out 437 of the 493-strong team to the Far East.

The official number of athletes selected to compete for Team GB has not been released as yet but estimates put the team at around 550.

BBC director of London 2012 Roger Mosey, writing on his official blog, described the staff number jump as “inevitable” because of the the "massive increase in output - with four times as many TV channels and an extra radio station compared with Beijing, and double the overall number of hours" to be handled by the Corporation.

He also said the hike is down to the "predicted greater level of interest" in the event.

The BBC's planned coverage already includes 24 digital HD channels, a new, albeit temporary digital radio station and 33 hours a day across the BBC’s bouquet of channels including BBC One, Two, and Three.

Mosey said releasing the staffing levels was part of the BBC's “commitment to being completely transparent about what we're up to” ahead of the Games.

"Big events require significant staffing levels,” he said and pointed to U.S. broadcaster NBC which has “used over 2,800 staff at previous Olympics.”

Mosey also noted The Times reported that “there were 380 staff working on Sky Sports' excellent host-broadcasting operation for last year's Champions League final at Wembley."

His blog noted that there “was a very strange argument that it's a problem if the BBC staffing levels are greater than the size of Team GB - as if a Team GB of 1,000 people would then make it OK for us to have 999.”

Mosey said the BBC's teams “are driven by the scale of the overall coverage, not the number of British athletes competing."