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Secrecy surrounds London 2012 ticket demand

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David Bond | 17:34 UK time, Friday, 1 April 2011

Almost half way through the ticket ballot for London 2012 and we still have no real sense of how big or small the public demand is for the Games.

Speaking after the International Olympic Committee had given London another glowing report on preparations so far, The London Organising Committee (Locog) chief executive Paul Deighton refused to give out any details on the number of online applications received or the number of tickets requested.

All he would say is that demand was "strong" and that he and Locog are very happy with where they are. He did add that the next few days would see a ramping up in advertising and promotion as the 26 April deadline draws closer.

But why doesn't Locog tell us how many tickets have been requested? And for what events?

Olympic ticket sales account for a quarter of Locog's budget. Photo: PA

Olympic ticket sales account for a quarter of Locog's budget. Photo: PA

It argues that by offering a running commentary Locog could risk discouraging people from applying if they feel there are still lots of tickets left. Conversely and, perhaps more worryingly for their ticketing systems, they fear creating panic if the message gets around that most of the best events have already gone.

But surely those fears are unfounded when, in principle, no ticket is actually sold until April 26.

People wanting to go to the most popular events like the men's 100metres final, the track cycling or the swimming would have just as much chance if they left it to the last minute as if they did it now. They are likely to be oversubscribed so will go to a random ballot anyhow.

So why the secrecy?

Of course ticket sales are such a crucial part of Locog's £2bn budget, accounting for a quarter of its income, that Deighton and chairman Lord Coe won't do anything which jeopardises them.

Deighton revealed today that by the one year to go milestone in July, 90 per cent of the money Locog needs to stage the Games will have been commited. He said given the difficult economic conditions the organising committee has been facing for the last three years, it was an incredible achievement.

But with costs now the major challenge as Locog enters the home straight, both he and Coe say they are having to pedal very hard just to balance the budget.

Making a profit is not Locog's intention. Deighton's priority is to avoid making any call on Government money thus increasing the £9.3bn public sector funding package for the Olympics.

This may be true. But it is also an extremely useful argument at a time when the British Olympic Association is arguing for a larger share of any surplus from the Games.


  • Comment number 1.

    Maybe this is an indication that things are not going as well as they hoped... Although if sales are down it may encourage more to apply if they think they now stand a better chance of getting a ticket

  • Comment number 2.

    Essentially the fact is that not knowing what I'd be getting, what it might cost me and the delay in being able to give the tickets back/get rid of them means I'm not going to anything - even the footie to be held in Newcastle - I mean why would my wife & I take a chance on only getting one ticket costing a fortune.

    Might wait until the returns come up for sale and buy what I actually want in the numbers I want them in.

  • Comment number 3.

    The reason is that the current system is set up so that people will be forced to apply for less popular events at a price much higher than what they would normally be prepared to pay for, if we were told what events were selling well and which were selling poorly this would give an unfair advantage to those who apply later (they have more choice in which less popular events and more popular events to apply for); as we were told at the start, there is no advantage in applying later.

    Personally I think this blind lottery system is a bad one for consumers, but good for the Olympic organisers as it allows them to charge more for tickets than their actual market value and almost guarantee filled stadia that otherwise would be only half full.

  • Comment number 4.

    Finances and corporate image comes first and public comes a distant last.....

  • Comment number 5.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 6.

    Re GrandfalconRailroad (#2). The application ballot process does not split applications. If you apply for 2 tickets you get either 2 or none. There is no risk of you getting a ticket but none for your wife - see FAQ's in ticket guide book. (pg 64)

  • Comment number 7.

    'The greatest tickets on earth' - no they are not. Greatest event on earth? No it isn't. A few of the events are worth the hype, to be there to see Bolt would be the ticket but there will be a lot to forget.

    Not interested really, sorry.

  • Comment number 8.

    A far cry from 1960, when as a schoolboy with income only from my newspaper round I travelled to Rome and had a great seat for the best two days of athletics finals. (I was hoping to see world record holder Gordon Pirie win the 5000 metres, only found out when in the ground that he hadn't qualified.) At that time, the Olympics seemed to be aimed at athletes and sports fans, now it's much more about spectacle and cash.

  • Comment number 9.

    London Olympic ticketing is pathetically organised!

    You have no clue what you might end up buying!!

    Has anyone rung the Consumer Watchdog?

  • Comment number 10.

    Re Billion Plus

    I completely agree.

    Motihur Rahman

  • Comment number 11.

    I'm sorry but it does feel like whatever the organisers do people complain and make out that the Olympics are going to be a farce. The ticket system is designed a certain way, so what? Just order your tickets and good luck. There isn't a hidden agenda all they're trying to do is make some money. I'm sure people have their own amazing system for selling tickets but it's funny how nobody is mentioning one

  • Comment number 12.

    I personally am disappointed with the complaining culture here in Britain. It's too hot, it's too cold, it's too everything. Can we as a host nation not continue to complain about the Olympics and what it is or is not going to do for us? It is going to happen in 482 days and you will either support it or not.

    I for one have had the pleasure of attending several games dating back to my first in Los Angeles '84 and feel that the entire process is what it is. It is the Olympic experience. Just like the athletes themselves, we have to do things that we might not agree with, but ultimately, you have already made your minds up about going. Going to the Olympics is not something that you decide to do on the day. This is not Wimbledon (which I love too), you have to plan for this experience.

    Stop complaining, get on with it, and support our athletes at whatever sport you can get tickets to. You will not get this opportunity again in your lifetime; gauranteed! Either be a part of history or get out of the way, because I will be right in the middle of it, whether its the 100m final or or table tennis. GB..GB..GB..!!!

  • Comment number 13.

    re.Allan Blair Beaton II


    Demand is going to be huge fr the big events so the more people who complain and say they are not going, the bigger chance on a selfish note, for me to get a ticket.

    It is all about the experience of being there! Be it the volleyball qualifiers or cycling track finals (although I'd prefer one of them!!), just being able to say in 20 years you were there is worth it.

    All those looking forward to the events... I will see you there.

    To the others... people... do not buy the tickets... it is going to be a farce...we will not win anything... it is all about the corporate... prices are too high... ticket system is a disgrace.. might as well watch it on tv...

  • Comment number 14.

    We have applied for 6 tickets for various events. Hope they don't all get through as total shot up to over £1200

  • Comment number 15.

    Maybe they are reacting to applications for Manchester Commonwealth Games 2002.
    On the day they went on general sale,I rang for five hours solid,pressing last number redial before I even managed to get in the queue.
    When eventually got through,got one set of tickets for rugby sevens finals,but had to settle for second choice date for athletics.
    Granted, it was a smaller stadium,38000 capacity.

  • Comment number 16.

    I think it's a marketing ploy why they're not revealing any details at this stage & I totally understand why.

    I suspect tickets for final sessions of the most popular sports like Athletics, Swimming, Gymnastics & Cycling are already over subscribed & that was always going to be the case. However, if they explicitly tell people that there's a danger that people won't bother applying for anything i.e. people who were going to apply for some Athletics & Swimming finals and also some heat sessions & something else like Volleyball may not just bother to apply at all. From a Marketing perspective tickets are going to be more difficult to shift for non final sessions & less popular sports and that's what the organisers will be concerned about.

  • Comment number 17.

    There is an opportunity to see the olympics every 4 years. Seeing them in london doesn't make it any more special.

    All this talk about marketing strategies, if these tickets were selling you wouldn't be able to keep them quiet. The more and more that those that think from a "marketing and strategy" perspective get their fingers burnt by asking so much of sports fans, the better

  • Comment number 18.

    If you are lucky enough to get a ticket to see a final event in which a British athlete wins a medal in front of their home crowd I very much doubt that Kapnag's view that seeing the Olympics in London is nothing special will find much support from those British spectators. The atmosphere at any Olympics is special and London will be even more so. Competitors from other countries will get great support from the crowd; however British athlete's will be hoping for the "twelfth man" support from the home crowd to give them an edge.

    The prices may seem high if you are bringing your whole family, with travel and accommodation added on if you live some way out of London, but this would be true for any big event such as a Premiership football match, West End musical or an Ashes match. This event was only ever going to be a successful bid in London; there were three consecutive failed bids in the 1990's from Manchester (twice) and Birmingham.

    Even if you feel a little cynical now about the ticketing system and pricing but do make the effort to place an order you will be swept away when the big day comes. Ask anyone who has been to an Olympic games about what the atmosphere is like just being in the host city, it is special.

    People in Britain will be bidding for tickets and hoping to get for what they asked for but realistic enough that some events will be a lottery. There is no rush, the event is 16 months away, we will know soon enough. So no, too much is not being asked of fans. If you want to go, apply for tickets, if you don't like the pricing or marketing don't waste your money, stay at home and watch it on TV.

  • Comment number 19.

    According to the Guardian correspondent the number of ticket applications are ' worryingly low'

  • Comment number 20.

    David, do you have access to the data from previous Olympics regarding attendance and money gained from ticket sales (domestic or otherwise)? It might help put things in context when this information does become available for the London games.

    I can understand the commercial need to squeeze as much as possible out of people prepared to pay money to watch Olympic events, but I am confused about the statement:
    "...the British Olympic Association is arguing for a larger share of any surplus from the Games", especially when it follows a sentence with the phrase:
    "Deighton's priority is to avoid making any call on Government money thus increasing the £9.3bn public sector funding package for the Olympics."

    Surely, something here doesn't add up? Does the British Olympic Association count a £9.3bn loss as nothing to do with them?

  • Comment number 21.

    Me thinks everyone is waiting for the last minute....

    So no surprise if numbers are not high yet.

  • Comment number 22.

    Going to the Olympics is not something that you decide to do on the day. This is not Wimbledon (which I love too), you have to plan for this experience.

    Yes you have to plan - and you have to have 9.3B of public money, that does not sit so happily with me now that I know working for the NHS I won't get any cost of living increases for the next two years (to go along with the last two years that I haven't had any).

    Also having found out that our incremental salary increases have also been put on hold for the next two years so effectively I will be working for four years taking a pay cut each year, my pay isn't rising, inflation is, the nursery my child goes too puts prices up etc.

    If this stupid event hadn't been 'gifted' to London there might be a bit more money going to things that need it, instead we're a country in debt throwing money we don't have at a celebration of minority sport

    Bitter, you bet I'm bitter

  • Comment number 23.

    FA rules state: "A participant shall at all times act in the best interests of the game and shall not act in any manner which is improper or brings the game into disrepute or use any one, or a combination of, violent conduct, serious foul play, threatening, abusive, indecent or insulting words or behaviour."

    The fact is that the FA have got this wrong - the charge should have been bringing the game into disrepute - because it seems they have used the "abusive, indecent or insulting words or behaviour" charge they have rightly or wrongly left themselves open to charges of favouritism or bias.

    When coaches are seen swearing at the fourth official, when players are now seen swearing either at the referee or walking away from the referee, the same charge should be applied - Rooney is not charged with swearing into the camera - which a disrepute charge could have stated, it is the generic language which is seen by anyone who can lip-read which is his crime.

    I don't agree with what he did but I also don't agree that the charge is correct, and if the charge isn't correct then the punishment isn't. A crime is a crime if committed and policed correctly, as someone pointed out previously you can't ignore previous episodes waiting to punish the 'big name'

  • Comment number 24.

    If the tickets don't sell, then they'll have to reduce the price. I'd wait for a price reduction.
    I'd love to see the tickets available in exchange for grocery loyalty points.
    Alternatively, 2.4.1, in the 99p Shop.
    The Olympics should never have come to GB, we're just not a world player anymore.


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