2012 Olympics tickets go on sale for London Games


Lord Coe explains how to buy 2012 tickets

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Tickets for the London 2012 Olympics have gone on sale, 500 days ahead of the event.

Some 6.6 million tickets are available from the London 2012 website over a six-week period and organisers say all applications will be treated equally.

Prices range from £20 to £2,012 and oversubscribed events will be decided by a ballot.

The ticket website initially failed to process the orders of people whose Visa card expires before August.

Ticket prices

Lord Coe, the chairman of London 2012, said: "If you look at the way we have put the price points together I think we've done that in a really smart way. I think those prices are affordable.

"Yes, the big ticket events are always going to be the big ticket events, but there are plenty of opportunities to see the big stars at the lower price points."

Lord Coe said he was confident the Games would be a sellout.

Start Quote

Olympic ticketing is always controversial. It's just not possible to keep everybody happy.”

End Quote James Pearce BBC Sports Correspondent

Organisers said they were confident they had done everything they could to avoid the website crashing as people log on for the first time to buy tickets.

The main factor is the establishment of a 42-day sales process which means each application between now and 26 April will be treated in exactly the same way.

People can also apply using a paper form obtainable from branches of Lloyds TSB in England, Bank of Scotland in Scotland or libraries in Northern Ireland between 15 March and 25 April 2011.

When the website did open, people applying for tickets found the website could not process their orders if their Visa card expires before August.

A London 2012 spokesman said Visa was working on this problem: "What Visa is trying to do is to ensure that more people will be able to apply by bringing this threshold forward so that it will only be if your card expires before the end of June that the site will not process your order.

"It means if your card runs out in July you will still be able to apply, but you will just need to come into the process a bit later."

London view
  • Sport, news and more 2012 information

Sean and Jacqueline Burke, from Southwell, Nottinghamshire, reported some problems using the website.

Mr Burke told BBC News: "We have managed to book tennis and athletics and one of the cycling events but we have had one or two problems with the website crashing. Logistically it's quite tricky at the moment."

Half a billion pounds is forecast to be raised from ticket sales.

Several events will be free, such as the marathon, and 2.5 million tickets will be available for £20 and under. Others start at between £30 and £50.

Ticket website resilience

London 2012 organisers are hoping to avoid their website crashing by making tickets available during a six week window rather than on a first come, first serve basis.

Ticketing websites often struggle to cope with the first rush on a major event, and sometimes crash.

"Why don't they plan for this?" is the usual cry. In most cases they could, but it all comes down to money.

If companies designed their systems to comfortably cope with occasional massive spikes in traffic, they would be over-specified for the rest of the time.

Imagine a department store that invested in 20m-wide doors just to cope with the January sales.

However, new technology could help deal with the busy periods, without causing costs to skyrocket.

Cloud computing allows companies to hire 'virtual' server capacity from specialist data centres.

There is clearly a lot of prestige associated with an event like the Olympics, and getting it right would be a feather in the cap for London 2012.

One thing buyers should be wary of is turning elsewhere if the main website does go down.

There will be plenty of bogus retailers out there, waiting to get hold of their credit card details.

Children under 17 will be able to "pay-your-age" to see some of the early heats, while the over-60s can watch for £16 at the same events.

Some 75% - or 6.6 million - of the 8.8 million tickets are available to the general public via the application process.

Of the remaining 2.2 million tickets, roughly half will be issued to National Olympic Committees (NOC) of each country, and half will be split between sponsors, the IOC, guests and hospitality partners.

People from some European countries can apply through the London 2012 website but residents of other countries can apply through their National Olympic Committee or appointed authorised ticket reseller.

Games organisers have faced calls from the London Assembly for a record of all tickets reserved for officials, politicians and VIPs to be published.

A further two million tickets for the Paralympic Games go on sale on 9 September.

Meanwhile, 10 councils in London have decided not to accept an offer to buy up to 100 Olympics tickets.

They are Barking and Dagenham, Barnet, Bromley, Camden, Kingston, Croydon, Harrow, Havering, Redbridge and Westminster.

London 2012 said any tickets not taken up would be offered to the public.

Touting clampdown

There has been some criticism of the ticket-buying process as all online tickets can be only paid for with a Visa card.

Buying tickets

• Ticket application process opens in the early hours of 15 March

• System is not first-come-first-served. A ballot will operate for over-subscribed events

• Applications close on 26 April

• People can apply online or using a paper form from Lloyds TSB, the Bank of Scotland in Scotland and libraries in Northern Ireland

• Tickets for 649 sport sessions go on sale across 39 Olympic disciplines

• Prices for many sports start at £20

• Some seats at the coveted 100m final cost £725

• Events like the marathon and cycling road race are free along most of the route

Olympics organisers Locog say this is in recognition of Visa's sponsorship of the Games, but critics say it is unfair.

Visa Europe has said people who do not have a Visa debit or credit card and do not wish to get one can obtain a Visa prepaid card to purchase Olympic tickets.

Concerns have also been raised about payments made on Visa debit cards.

Locog says payment will be taken between 10 May and 10 June and people will be told by 24 June which events they have tickets for.

This could mean money going out of bank accounts before the buyer knows which tickets they are getting.

Efforts are being stepped up to curb ticket touting, with the government planning to raise the maximum penalty from £5,000 to £20,000.


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