Olympics may not sell out
My next sentence is one which, for much of the past year, I never considered possible I would write. There is a real chance the London Olympics will not sell out.
I'm not just talking about football tickets, which the organisers were always going to struggle to persuade enough people to buy - I'm talking about a number of other key Olympic sports, like weightlifting, beach volleyball, boxing and even basketball.
Last year there were an astonishing 22 million applications in the first round ballot for the 6.6 million tickets available to the British public. Demand surprised even the most optimistic London 2012 officials. A number of events were more than 10 times over-subscribed.
When the remaining tickets went online during the second round sale last summer, most were snapped up in minutes. The British public appeared to have an insatiable appetite for the Olympics. There were never going to be enough tickets to go round.
Fast forward a year and the story is very different. A total of 928,000 extra non-football tickets were held back from sale until earlier this month - that's only a small fraction of the number that were bought so quickly 12 months ago. Initially they were only made available to the 1.2 million people who had applied unsuccessfully last year. Privately, London 2012 organisers expected them to sell out within that five day sales period.
The beach volleyball at Horseguard's Parade is one of the events in danger of not selling out. Photo: Getty
The result, though, was very different. Only 150,000 of those 1.2 million people decided to make a purchase. Less than half of the 928,000 tickets were bought. The British public, who a year ago had been so desperate to get their hands on whatever tickets they could find, were now sitting on their hands instead.
So, on Wednesday this week London 2012 opened up the sale to everybody in the UK. Regardless of whether you applied, or even registered an interest, last year, you're now able to log on to the London 2012 website and make a purchase. With more than 60 million of us now able to get involved, not to mention the rest of the European Union who are also entitled to buy direct from London 2012, you might have thought that the remaining few hundred thousand tickets wouldn't stay on sale for long.
Yet, more than 48 hours after this sale began, there are still nearly 300,000 tickets remaining. Beach volleyball, being staged right in the heart of London at Horse Guards Parade, was expected to be one of the high demand events of London 2012. The Games' organisers never predicted that with just nine weeks until the opening ceremony they would still have tickets for 34 different beach volleyball sessions on sale.
Weightlifting has 22 sessions which are yet to sell out, volleyball has 27, fencing 17, handball 19, taekwondo 10, basketball 28, boxing also 28, and there are others with availability too.
Even if these tickets do eventually sell, and there's no guarantee that they will, there's another batch of 150,000 tickets which won't even be available for another month. These are tickets which have had to be held back while seating plans have been finalised at some of the venues.
For example, the beach volleyball stadium is a temporary structure, which is still to be built. Only once it has been finished will the exact number of available tickets be known. So there are thousands more beach volleyball tickets which haven't yet reached a marketplace which is already looking surprisingly saturated.
The story with football tickets is far worse. There are more than a million left on sale, with even high profile matches like the Team GB women's game in Cardiff, which will kick off the whole Games on 25 July, struggling to sell more than a quarter of the available seats.
I'm sure that many of you will have your own views about why the demand for London 2012 tickets has dropped off so sharply. One of the main reasons is surely frustration with the process.
There have been a number of problems with the Ticketmaster website - even this week many of those trying to purchase tickets have been held in lengthy online queues, only to be told after half an hour that the tickets which they'd requested were no longer available. Others have probably decided that it's too late to book transport and hotels.
Whatever the reason, there's now the real risk of a sight at London 2012 which few people expected - empty seats.