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London 2012 aim for £200m target with first Olympics tickets phase

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David Bond | 10:39 UK time, Tuesday, 26 April 2011

If you are anything like me, you will have left it until the final weekend to submit your application for Olympic tickets.

With the first ticket sales phase closing at midnight on Tuesday, London 2012 have long expected the Easter holidays to be their busiest period so far.

Officials say their predictions were correct with high volumes of traffic on their website over the last four days. They add they are pleased with the response from the public over the course of the last six weeks.

But getting any real sense of how ticket sales have gone remains impossible, since London 2012 will not tell me how may applications have been received, how many tickets have been sold or even how many of the 645 separate sessions will have to go to a random ballot because they are oversubscribed.

All the press office will say is that there are a number of events for which the demand is greater than the supply of seats available. No surprise there then.

London 2012 chief executive, Paul Deighton

London 2012 chief executive, Paul Deighton, at the opening of the Heathrow London 2012 shop. Photo: Getty Images

Anecdotal evidence suggests there has been strong interest. And London 2012 did release some data last night which indicated that more than 100,000 customers have outstanding applications sitting in their online shopping baskets.

London 2012 chief executive, Paul Deighton, urged those customers to submit their forms to give themselves the best chance of getting the tickets they want in this round.

So, when the website closes tonight, how will Deighton and his team judge whether phase one of the great ticket sell-off has gone well?

Their first aim will have been to avoid any embarrassing website crashes. Previous Games have been hit by technical failures, but with one day to go, that has not happened.

Having decided to avoid the Glastonbury-style rush, where the quickest or best connected snap up all the tickets in the space of a few hours, London 2012 have repeatedly made it clear this would be a "marathon, not a sprint".

That means that anyone applying at one minute to midnight tonight has exactly the same chance as anyone who went online back on 15 March. According to London 2012, that message got through.

They will also have wanted to avoid any major complaints about their system and pricing.

Judging by the experience of family and friends, there is still some unease at the uncertainty surrounding the whole process.

Many people simply cannot understand how they can pay for something up front and not be sure what events they will get or where they will be sitting.

Some are also uncomfortable that London 2012 will start taking money from their credit cards and bank accounts from 10 May onwards, but that they could be waiting for weeks before knowing exactly what they have got.

On pricing, there is still a feeling among people I spoke to that the upper price brackets for the really big events are too high - especially when bundled up with a number of other events over the course of the Games. This has led some to potentially run up huge bills for which they could be liable if they get everything they have asked for.

But despite those concerns, London 2012 say those risks are made clear to customers, adding that the main complaint over the last few days has been from people who had forgotten their passwords for the site.

Ultimately - with a total of 6.6million tickets to sell in the UK - the only real measure of success can be how many have actually been sold.

London 2012 set a target of raising £200m of their £500m tickets budget from this first phase. To do that, it is my guess that they will have needed to sell about a third of the 6.6m available. Sources suggest they are well on their way to meeting those targets.

The next few weeks will now be spent working out how to allocate the tickets for the most sought-after events and sessions via ballots in a fair and transparent way.

Those results will be known in June, with large numbers of people likely to be disappointed with the outcome. That will be the first real test of the public mood surrounding these Games.


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