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A question of ticketing

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Roger Mosey | 10:12 UK time, Friday, 26 November 2010

The last few weeks for London 2012 seem to have fitted the mantra "no news is good news". Compare and contrast the visit of the International Olympic Committee inspectors last week - which went pretty much unnoticed - with the torrent of words being devoted to the 2018 World Cup bidding process.

The announcement of the ticket prices for the Olympics was another of the potential banana skins that was side-stepped without anyone ending up sprawled across the pavement. As some of your comments showed not everyone was enamoured of tickets at up to £2,012 each.

But mostly there was an acceptance across the media that the organisers had done a decent job of balancing the need to raise income with the aim of offering as many affordable tickets as possible.

Now comes the even more challenging bit. An Olympics as organised as Beijing's in 2008 still had a computer crash when tickets started being sold online and then some fisticuffs when the last batch were made available to people who'd queued for them.

Recent experience in the UK suggests we potentially face the same issues, though we'd hope without the violence.

Olympic swimmer Mark Foster and Olympic gold medalist Tessa Sanderson promote tickets for the 2012 Games

Mark Foster and Tessa Sanderson promote tickets for London 2012. Photo: Getty

Well, more details are now emerging of how LOCOG are going to try to lower the risks. Below is some of the information in the email they've sent out to people who've registered for tickets. You'll see that the removal of the usual "first come, first served" principle is designed to avoid the Beijing/Take That meltdowns; and overall the organisers - and anyone wanting to buy a ticket - will be juggling with the complexity of the vast amount of choice available. Key skill needed for would-be spectators: spotting which events and sessions are likely to be over-subscribed, and the ones where your application has a high chance of success.

I should say that LOCOG have a handy set of questions and answers about the tickets on their website, and nobody can doubt this will be a huge undertaking to make sure the process is fair, glitch-free and tout-free.

We'll know how successfully the first hurdle has been overcome in March next year when sales begin, and then the biggest test is whether the venues are full to capacity with contented ticket-holders in the summer of 2012.

LOCOG E-mail:
You will be able to apply online at or via a paper application form. Paper application forms will be available on high streets throughout the UK.

Unlike some other events, tickets will not be allocated on a first come, first served basis. The application window will be open for a set period of time, after which all applications will be considered equally. This means there is no advantage to submitting your application on the first day. With so many sports, venues and days to consider, we recommend you take your time and discuss your plans with family and friends before submitting your application.

For sessions where demand exceeds the supply of available tickets, an automated and random selection process ('ballot') will run to ensure the fairest possible allocation of tickets for those sessions. The aim of the ballot is to maximise the number of different applicants who are allocated tickets.

Once tickets have been allocated and payment taken we will tell you whether or not your application has been successful, the amount you have been charged and for which of your chosen sessions you have been allocated tickets. If you are successful in all your session applications, you are committed to buying all the tickets.

You can pay by Visa (debit, credit and prepaid), and also by cheque or postal order if applying via the paper application form. If you choose to pay by Visa, you must ensure you have sufficient funds to cover the maximum possible charge.

You can only submit one application per email address and Visa card.

To increase your chances of being successful, we recommend that you apply for more than one or two sessions and for a range of sports.

Tickets will be delivered to your billing address in 2012.


  • Comment number 1.

    I got the e-mail from LOCOG - the urging people to apply for a range of events and then saying you are committed to taking the tickets (if succesful) does not seem particularly attractive. Maybe I can't get too worked up about it at this relatively early stage because I'm not sure people will buy into this method and hopefully it will be changed. I know already what I want to see and if I am not succesful in the ballots, I will watch it on TV. I would love to see an Olympic event but not at any price!

  • Comment number 2.

    I am only really interested in seeing the Mountain Biking events...and like Valley4ever if I am not successful with my favoured events I will be watching from home...not too keen on using VISA only either... All forms of payment should be accepted, including the other types of debit/credit card.

  • Comment number 3.

    The biggest issue remains the phrase 'If you are successful in all your session applications, you are committed to buying all the tickets.' So to increase my chances I'd like to apply for 2 tickets at the hockey, swimming, athletics and the basketball. To increase my chances I'll apply twice for each sport. I'd hope to win 2 ticket to 2 different events at approx £40 per ticket. Therefore I'd hope to spend £160 at the 2012 Olympics. The problem is with this added phrase I could end up having to pay out £640 if I was 'lucky' enough to win tickets to everything. £160 I can afford (at a push!)... £640 I cannot!

  • Comment number 4.

    Thanks for this blog Roger, as the guys above have said that was my concern from reading the email. They are telling us to apply for more sessions to maximise the chances of being successful but then saying if we are lucky we are commited to paying.

  • Comment number 5.

    It sounds like exactly the same system that FIFA used for the 2006 World Cup in Germany (and probably in South Africa as well, though I didn't apply for that one). Which worked fairly smoothly. And whilst it has a sting in the tail that you are committed to take the tickets you apply for, it isn't as bad as FIFA's sting.
    What FIFA did was to get everyone to pay up front for every ticket they entered the ballot for. If your ballot application wasn't succesful, FIFA refunded your money. Having got sixth months interest on all the unsuccesful applications first...

  • Comment number 6.

    I think that the ticketing strategy has been really thought out, you may complain that there are some really expensive tickets, but they in turn will fund the cheaper "pay your age" ticket". And i think that london 2012 have to use visa, aren't they one of the IOC's sponsors? So the organisers have their hands tied.

  • Comment number 7.

    It seems to me that an extra step needs to be brought in which hopefully will be more attractive. Why not, once you are successful in the ballot, have 7/14 days to confirm least that way we will be encouraged to apply for the events we all want to without fear of being obliged to pay far more than we want to. I don't think it is unreasonable to hope for this.

  • Comment number 8.

    Valley4ever -

    I suspect that they hope people only apply for what they really really want to go to, and then a second round of ticketing is opened (possibly first-come-first-served) to sell out the rest.

  • Comment number 9.

    I've been looking forward to the olympic's coming to the UK pretty much since the day of the announcement. However was left completley underwhelmed when i got the email last week about ticketing.

    There is a lot of good in the system such as the period of application rather than first come first served but the sting of being committed to buying all tickets applied for if successful worries me a lot and also puts me off. I agree with Valley4ever's idea of having a set time to confirm.

    Also only being able to pay on visa??? Thats stupidly restricting!

  • Comment number 10.

    Thanks for the comments. I've run them past LOCOG and in response they say:

    "Firstly, there will be an official resale site/platform for people to sell their tickets on at face value.

    "And secondly, we will spend time from January to March next year encouraging the public to plan their games. We launched this message in July at 2 years to go, and are now moving into a detailed planning stage as the public makes decisions about which of the 26 sports they want to see, on which day, and at which price."

    So they've heard the points you've made, and we can expect more detail in the coming weeks...

  • Comment number 11.

    Ditching first come, first serve, seems a fair move - though surely those pre-registered should get the first chance at the tickets.

    Am concerned about them encouraging you to apply for more events to avoid disappointment and then telling you you're committed to whatever they give you - surely statutory rights etc. means you have the right to change your mind within something like 7-28 days.

    Also as I've said before strongly disagree with the Visa only principle too, which surely flouts the most basic anti-competition laws. Also in these times of a credit crunch it's wrong to encourage people to take up unnecessary cards, plus goes against the whole principle of the games.


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