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What to watch at the London Olympics

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Dave Gordon | 00:01 UK time, Tuesday, 15 February 2011

The release of the Olympic competition schedule (PDF link) is always a high spot for me in the four-year Olympic cycle.

As BBC Sport's head of major events, I get very excited - as my colleagues will testify - at the prospect of looking for those events and moments that are likely to capture the audience's imagination during the Games.

Since Barcelona in 1992, I've been planning the detailed television sports schedules and my approach has always been to look for the stories each day. Who are likely to be the stars of the Games? Can our heroes of four years before repeat their successes? Where will the dramatic action take place? Will history be made? We'll shape our plans accordingly.

What follows are some first thoughts which inform our plans but are equally relevant when deciding which tickets to try to buy. On which days should you try to get the unique experience of being there? Which are the days to spend 15 hours on your sofa watching all the action, without missing a moment?

It's your choice, of course, but we'll benefit both ways with full stadia and large TV audiences creating a great atmosphere for both spectators and viewers at home.

Aquatics Centre (computer-generated image)

The Aquatics Centre, seen in a computer-generated image, will be home to much of the early London 2012 action

Wednesday, 25 July (Day minus-two)

The Olympic Games literally kicks off two days before the opening ceremony with the start of the women's football competition. You should expect live network TV coverage of Team GB's first match; one of six being played around the country at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Coventry and Glasgow.

Note that all the matches will be covered and shown live. We have made a public promise to show all the sporting sessions at the Games, ticketed or otherwise (such as those events on the roads of London), across our platforms.

Thursday, 26 July (Day minus-one)

The next day, it's the turn of the men. Once again we will offer live network coverage of Team GB's first game; it will be one of eight matches taking place at Cardiff, Coventry, Glasgow, Manchester and Newcastle.

Friday, 27 July (Day zero)

No agonising to be done here. The focus of the day will be the opening ceremony.

Whatever the creative proposition behind what we expect will be a spectacular event, it will draw a worldwide TV audience measured in billions rather than millions. Tickets will be much sought-after, but there is a potential consolation for those unsuccessful in securing one.

We will be following the progress of the torch right around the country from the moment it arrives on 18 May next year. On this day, it makes its final journey through the streets of London. Good pictures for us and a great opportunity for you to view it first-hand - and it will be free!

Saturday, 28 July (Day one)

The first day proper with the action starting just after eight in the morning and finishing around midnight; 16 hours which sees the first 12 gold medals of the 302 that will be won across the next 16 days.

The actual first gold medal will be in shooting at the Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich - the women's 10m air rifle. However, the first morning will be dominated by rowing and swimming heats; an early chance to assess the form of British crews at Eton Dorney and a glimpse, perhaps, of the legendary American swimmer Michael Phelps as he begins his campaign to be a multi-medal winner again.

There are free views not just on the streets of London but out as far as Box Hill in Surrey as the six-hour men's cycling road race dominates the middle of the day. Starting at ten, we expect the winner - could it be Britain's Mark Cavendish? - to cross the line in front of Buckingham Palace (that bit is ticketed) between three and four.

The evening will be dominated by the first four swimming finals, but two more sports that I will be looking out for are the start of the tennis and the men's team archery. That's simply because they take place at two of the world's great iconic sports venues: Wimbledon and Lord's Cricket Ground. Let's not forget that Horse Guards Parade stages the start of the beach volleyball, too.

Sunday, 29 July (Day two)

A memorable day four years ago as Britain's Nicole Cooke won the first of Team GB's 19 gold medals in Beijing. Our focus in 2012 will be on her event - the women's road race. Shorter than the men's, it starts at 1200 but finishes around the same time.

There are more rowing and swimming heats in the morning, in which we'll hope that Rebecca Adlington can emulate her success in 2008. The women's 400m freestyle has heats in the morning and the final in the evening.

The hockey competition starts in the Olympic Park with six women's preliminary matches, while Wembley stages its first games of the football tournaments.

We'll also be paying close attention to the sailing, which gets under way at Weymouth. Britain has been the most successful nation at the last three Games and the pressure will be on to make it four in a row. The good news, for spectators and the TV coverage, is that there are good land-based vantage points to watch the action close-up.

Monday, 30 July (Day three)

This is the first of Tom Daley's two dates with destiny. Expect to see him and his partner today in the final of the men's 10m synchronised diving. That starts at 3pm, followed soon after by the first of the artistic gymnastics finals: the men's team, which takes place in the magnificent setting of the O2 Arena (or as it will be known at Games-time, the North Greenwich Arena).

Nearby, Greenwich Park stages the spectacular cross-country phase of the equestrian three-day event. Watch out too for the rowing men's four heats, with the British crew trying to win the event for the fourth Games in succession, and the evening peak-time attraction will again be the action in the swimming pool.

Tuesday, 31 July (Day four)

The spotlight falls again on Greenwich Park with the climax of the three-day event - the show jumping phase. Team and individual medals will be awarded, with Team GB hoping to improve on bronze in both events in 2008.

It's the turn of the women's teams in gymnastics and there's more swimming and rowing too. However, we'll also be watching out for some more dramatic water-based sport. The first canoe slalom medals will be awarded at the Lee Valley White Water Centre in Broxbourne.

Finally, Britain's women's football team can secure a quarter-final place today.

Wednesday, 1 August (Day five)

The day starts with attention directed towards the rowing. The first of four days of finals features three gold-medal events, including the prestigious men's eight and the women's quadruple sculls, in which Team GB have had to settle for silver in the last three Games.

There's more cycling action when the women's and men's time trials are staged at yet another iconic venue, Hampton Court Palace.The men's all-around gymnastics champion will be crowned in the early evening, followed by four more swimming finals. We'll also find out if Britain's men's football team have reached the quarter-finals.

Thursday, 2 August (Day six)

Team GB won a grand total of seven track cycling gold medals in Beijing, alongside another three silvers and two bronze. No wonder we, you and the team itself will look forward to the first day of events in the Velodrome.

Medals will be won in the women's and men's team sprints. Also in the late afternoon/early evening slot is the women's all-around gymnastics. There are three more rowing and four more swimming finals, along with the final day of canoe slalom.

Jessica Ennis at the 2011 GB trials

Heptathlete Jessica Ennis will be the focus of British aspirations within the Olympic Stadium at London 2012

Friday, 3 August (Day seven)

The Games go up a gear today with the start of the athletics. Just think of the pressure Jessica Ennis will feel - she is the current world champion and favourite for the heptathlon; 100m hurdles and high jump in the morning, followed by the shot put and the 200m in the evening.

It's a big day too for Rebecca Adlington, who will be hoping to defend her 800m freestyle title this evening during the penultimate night of swimming.

There's only one more day of rowing to go, while the first badminton final - the mixed doubles - takes place at Wembley Arena. Lord's stages the final day of Archery, in the shape of the men's individual event. Meanwhile, semi-final places are at stake in the latest round of women's football matches.

Saturday, 4 August (Day eight)

We'll probably call this a 'super Saturday' with 25 gold medals to be won and the action relentless from morning through to night.

The women's triathlon, based around Hyde Park and beyond, kicks the day off. Jessica Ennis is back in action in the long jump and javelin in the morning athletics session, with the gruelling climax - the 800m - to come at the end of the night. It's also the day you can catch a first look at the sensational sprinter Usain Bolt.

The rowing ends with the men's four and lightweight men's double sculls finals - both British gold medals in 2008. It's the last day of swimming, day three of the track cycling, the women's singles tennis final and the men's football quarter-finals.

This is simply an outstanding day's sport from beginning to end, with a great day to follow tomorrow. If you can't get a ticket, this might well be the weekend to stay at home and let us offer you the best seat at the Games!

Sunday, 5 August (Day nine)

After super Saturday, this could be sensational Sunday. Just imagine the scenes in the Mall if Paula Radcliffe wins that elusive Olympic marathon title. The race is off at 11am with a finish after 1pm.

What if Ben Ainslie can take a fourth successive sailing gold medal at Weymouth? The first sailing finals get under way at 1pm, as does the men's singles final at Wimbledon; a date with destiny for Andy Murray perhaps?

Can Usain Bolt repeat his Beijing success at 100m and break the world record in the process? The evening's athletics finishes shortly before 10pm with that final. Earlier that evening it's the women's 400m final, which Christine Ohuruogu won in style four years ago.

Twenty-three gold medals are at stake today, including the final two in the badminton competition at Wembley Arena. There's only one gold medal to be won at the track cycling but it will require a superhuman effort to win it, as today is the climax of a new event, the men's omnium: six disciplines over two days. Watch out, too, as history is made with the Olympic debut of women's boxing in the afternoon session.

Monday, 6 August (Day 10)

A quieter day after the weekend's excitement, but this is one with plenty of potential to create headlines. Keep an eye on the sailing at Weymouth - the Lasers are decided today.

By this stage, matches in team competitions are becoming ever-more crucial. For instance, today sees the final round of women's preliminary hockey with semi-final places at stake. Hopefully Team GB's women's football squad will have already secured a semi-final berth; the games are at Wembley and Old Trafford.

In track cycling, the women's omnium gets under way in the morning session and in the late afternoon the highlight will be the men's sprint final. Could Sir Chris Hoy repeat his Beijing triumph? Earlier in the afternoon, Greenwich Park stages the team show jumping final and we hope Beth Tweddle will feature on the second day of the gymnastics apparatus finals, on the uneven bars.

It's a busy night in the Olympic Stadium, ending with the men's 400m. Meanwhile, the second night of men's boxing quarter-finals follows the afternoon's women's quarter-finals; all winners at this stage are guaranteed a bronze medal at least.

Tuesday, 7 August (Day 11)

It will be an early morning start for Usain Bolt as he begins the defence of his 200m title. Watch out, too, for a first sight of Beijing silver medallist Phillips Idowu in men's triple jump qualification.

The men's triathlon gets under way at 11.30am in Hyde Park. The finish is followed by the final artistic gymnastics session of the Games, ending with the women's floor. It's also the final day of track cycling with the women's omnium decided ahead of the men's keirin and women's sprint - titles won four years ago by Chris Hoy and Victoria Pendleton.

This is also the third day of sailing finals, with the windsurfers competing for gold - remember that Team GB won four golds, one silver and one bronze last time and have a proud record to defend.

The men take to the semi-final football stage at Wembley and Old Trafford and there's a full programme of athletics in the evening, as well as the men's and women's semi-finals of the beach volleyball on Horse Guards Parade.

Wednesday, 8 August (Day 12)

The first medal of the day will be won at Eton Dorney. This time, it's the sprint canoeing and the K1 1000 metres - an event won by Britain's Tim Brabants in Beijing.

It's a crowded afternoon: women's boxing semi-finals feature in the Excel Arena; basketball action has transferred from the Olympic Park to the North Greenwich Arena, where it's men's quarter-finals day; the individual show jumping final take place at Greenwich Park; and women's hockey has reached the semi-final stage.

In the evening, it's the women's beach volleyball finals; the last night of men's boxing quarter-finals; and four more athletics titles are decided in the Olympic Stadium. Finally, it's the last chance to see any table tennis - the finals of the men's team competition - and a first opportunity to savour BMX, with the seeding runs.

Thursday, 9 August (Day 13)

No doubt that worldwide attention this evening will be on Usain Bolt in the men's 200m final, while British hearts will be willing on Phillips Idowu to men's triple jump gold. However, there's much more quality sport to savour today.

The women's 10km open water swim is the lunchtime attraction in Hyde Park while Coventry stages the women's football bronze-medal match. There's also more BMX and the men's hockey semi-finals.

The first-ever women's boxing finals will be fought over in the late afternoon followed by the women's football final at Wembley. Once again, but for the final time, beach volleyball - the men's finals - ends the day.

Basketball Arena (computer-generated image)

The temporary Basketball Arena hosts basketball preliminaries and handball finals during the Games (computer-generated image)

Friday, 10 August (Day 14)

There'll be no shortage of drama today as the relays are the focus of the evening athletics session, and there are bound to be thrills and spills at the BMX as Britain's Shanaze Reade goes for gold.

It's the turn of the men to have that lunchtime open-water swim in the Serpentine and there's plenty of team competition to savour. As well as the women's hockey medal matches, there are men's basketball semi-finals to enjoy and the men's football bronze-medal match is staged at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.

It's a crucial day at Excel with all the men's boxing semi-finals, and it's the third of four days of taekwondo action. However, all eyes in the evening will be on teenage diver Tom Daley as he competes in the men's platform preliminaries.

Saturday, 11 August (Day 15)

It should be a terrific evening at the last night of the athletics, featuring all the excitement of the sprint relays followed by the men's 10m diving final - that second date with destiny for Tom Daley.

He must first come through the morning's semi-finals, which share top billing with the last day of canoeing, where all the finals feature the new 200m sprint distance. It's the final day of sailing, too, with the new women's match racing class.

The early afternoon is taken up with the women's mountain biking at Hadleigh Farm, but the centrepiece of the day is the men's football final at Wembley. A 3pm kick off, and defending champions Argentina will be unable to make it three in a row as they have failed to qualify.

In other team action, there are the men's hockey and women's basketball and volleyball finals. A total of 32 gold medals will be won today. Five of those will be won in the first boxing finals session, which starts at 8.30pm, including the middleweight division won by Britain's James Degale in 2008.

Sunday, 12 August (Day 16)

Before the end-of-Games party can begin, after tonight's closing ceremony, there are still a further 15 gold medals to be won.

The first event to start and the last to finish will be the women's modern pentathlon, in which Team GB has done so well at the last three Games; 8am for the fencing, followed by swimming and riding, and ending with the combined running and shooting phase which starts at 5pm.

In between there's the men's marathon, which gets under way at 11am. Wouldn't it be a fairytale finish if the legendary Haile Gebrselassie could crown his career with a victory today?

That's followed by five more boxing finals, the men's mountain biking and team finals in men's basketball, handball, volleyball and water polo.

All that remains is a closing ceremony to celebrate a feast of sporting achievement and draw the XXX Olympiad to a close. The flame will be extinguished and the Olympic flag passed on to Rio. There'll be many memories to treasure, with some eight million people having had the chance to experience the Games at first hand.

For those who can't, the BBC plans to offer the next best thing with our most comprehensive Games coverage ever across TV, radio and online. Plans are well under way so there's no need to panic. Suddenly, though, the Games seem a lot, lot closer!


  • Comment number 1.

    Absolutely fascinating.

    Two weeks of OTT running, jumping, throwing, hitting etc etc ad nauseam.

  • Comment number 2.

    I love watching the Olympics on the BBC, but on this occasion, I hope to watch as little on TV as possible. So excited to start planning which tickets to aim for!

  • Comment number 3.

    You seem to have missed a bit in your fourth paragraph Dave, let me help you out.

    "On which days should you try to SEE IF YOU CAN AFFORD TO get the unique experience of being there?"

    I bet you and your BBC colleagues are absolutely cock-a-hoop at the massive audiences you're going to get of people who haven't got at least a grand spare to enjoy these Games to their fullest in person.

    Of course you don't have to pay to be there, Dave, quite the reverse in fact.

  • Comment number 4.

    I remember in 2008 a lot of video coverage could be found online but only for the people residing in the UK. Will this still be the case or will people from outside the UK be able to tune into the online videostreams on the BBC website? I thoroughly enjoyed the BBC coverage in 2008 but obviously you are stuck to the events the BBC decides to show on TV.

  • Comment number 5.

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

  • Comment number 6.

    I personally can't wait for the BMX, last time round in Beijing it was hilarious, watching semi grown adults peddling furiously and occasionally knocking each other over.

  • Comment number 7.

    A month of road closures, and lane closures causing massive traffic jams - tv schedules cancelled, same thing being shown on multiple channels.

    Financial burden to last for years, late hand-over of some buildings.

    Wake me up when it is all over!

  • Comment number 8.

    It cracks me up too, the thought of the crazy BMXers trying to sell things to each other as they pedal furiously around the course, lol.

  • Comment number 9.

    Ah British negativity, you just have to love it!!!

  • Comment number 10.

    Downloaded the menu this morning excited about choosing some events to go and see. Wasnt expecting bargains - but at least Dick Turpin wore a mask while robbing you!

    Cant seem to find any seating arrangements to match with the price categories. If im prepared to take out a mortgage for a decent category ticket I at least want some idea of what im paying for before handing my savings over to the organisers - AGAIN!

  • Comment number 11.

    @3 - Have you even bothered to check ANY of the price structures that have been presented this morning?? I dont think that any of these tickets get even close to a grand.

    Im sick of British people complaining about the games being here. If you're not bothered about the Games, why try and put a downer on it for everybody else? I, like many others, are incredibly excited about the Games being in this country for what is a once in a lifetime experience. And I will be applying for tickets for lots of the events, even if I dont have £1000 going spare (!)

  • Comment number 12.

    OldRocker, I wonder why you bothered to clink on a link to the Olympics, log on and post a comment if you clearly find sport boring?

    I am a bit perturbed by the number of times the words "gold" and "medal" are featured in the BBC article about the schedule. There will be other nations and competitors turning up as well as British ones, you know. I fear many of our athletes will crumble under the weight of absurd expectation by August next year. It doesn't bear thinking about.

  • Comment number 13.

    if people dont enjoy the olympics then that is fine, but why come on to a page that is celebrating the olympics to spread your misery?

  • Comment number 14.

    @11. To be fair to Jason Crawley some of the tickets for the finals and opening ceremonies cost in excess of £2000. But then again at all these events there are tickets that come right down to about £20, so you can still experience the games without having to remortgage the house.

  • Comment number 15.

    I registered to be a 2012 volunteer expecting to hear BEFORE the tickets came out whether my application was accepted or not. It now looks likely I will not hear until after the tickets have been sold. This will put me and other potential volunteers in a real dilemma. I want to be part of the Olympic experience either as a spectator or a volunteer but to forgo getting any tickets and then getting a volunteering rejection letter would be just to awful to contemplate.

  • Comment number 16.

    @14 - ah yeah, I have just realised there are omly 3 ticket catergories for the entire Games for sale at over 1K. Alternatively, you could just not pay these incredibly high levels, as you say, and still enjoy the games!

    It is also worth remembering, as it says on the London 2012 website, that many of the cheaper tickets are subsidised by the more expensive ones. It would appear that having these incredibly high ticket prices is indeed useful for the rest of us then!

  • Comment number 17.

    I've promised my daughter that she can watch Usain Bolt and (if he qualifies) Oscar Pistorious. The 100m Final will be a bit expensive, so I'll go for the 1st and 2nd Round. Same runners - a lot cheaper and more races to watch.

    And yes, I'm excited about a trip to the UK with my family to show them the Best of British at the Olympics.

  • Comment number 18.

    What a happy bunch you are.

    We love the Olympics so we're saving up, booking the time off work, getting to a few events in the cheaper seats and watching some of the free road events and soaking up the atmosphere.

    Some of the team events you can get two matches for £20 - bargain. And for children you only have to pay the age of your child. Yes, the top grade tickets are extortionate but there are tickets for everyone.

  • Comment number 19.

    singinghannahj, you mean like they crumbled at Beijing, bringing home only 18 golds and giving us our best haul for how many decades???

  • Comment number 20.

    wow, wow and wow!!!
    can't wait, and I have got a year to plan my schedule!

    to all the negative comments on here - you seriously need to get a life.
    anybody in this country not looking forward to next year, can I remind you that this is a ONCE in a lifetime event, and we should all be proud to be hosting the games.

  • Comment number 21.

    #5 I believe she actually served her punishment for missing the drugs tests & - let's repeat it - there was no evidence she actually had taken drugs. So you are clearly one of those who believe in guilt without evidence and that a punishment can never be served.
    Otherwise, I agree with those who have commented on the typical British negativity about the Olympics. But even if we get 50 gold medals, head the medals table and the rest of the world says the 2012 games were a tremendous success, you can bet there will still be a large number of people in the UK finding something to groan and grumble about. It's a pity there isn't an Olympic event in whingeing and moaning - we'd have at least one gold medal sewn up already!

  • Comment number 22.

    Tickets are cheaper than a flight to another host city would be.

    May have read lazily but I cannot see the 4 x 100m and 4 x 400m relays? I look forward to those events.

    Will definately get to Dorney on one day and try and see some velodrome action.

  • Comment number 23.

    Great News! Now I can start planning exactly when to go on holiday and miss this over-hyped, waste of money just craeted to make a few egos even bigger.

    Bearing how massively OTT the BBC goes at any 'normal' sporting event, I should imagine the Beeb will be unbearable for weeks, if not months before, during and after this giant white elephant.

  • Comment number 24.

    I have volunteered to help out with the olympics as I'll have a chunk of time available during the olympics and paralympics, but they'll not tell me if I'll be wanted until the end of 2011, long after the ticketting period. I haven't even been called for selection yet.

    It all just seems as if they've got the timeline for volunteers totally messed up, it's possible that volunteers may end up not needed and also without tickets. If I knew when I might be needed, I could avoid these dates on the ticket applications, but as it stands, it seems that volunteers (who are to be out of pocket as no expenses are given) get the short end of the stick due to uncertainty.

    Delaying ticket sales until after volunteers had certainty would have been the courteous option. Given that this isn't going to happen, they could reserve a batch of tickets so that volunteers (wanted or not) can apply for tickets with a similar chance of getting them as the main cohort of applications. This could still be done.

    The dilemma of ticket applications whilst not knowing on what dates I'll be free means that I'm seriously considering withdrawing from volunteering.

  • Comment number 25.

    I WAS looking forward to the olympics, however having just checked out the prices, I'll be definitely be needing a loan to go and watch my favourite sport! Ridiculous prices, the organisers should be ashamed of themselves.

  • Comment number 26.

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

  • Comment number 27.

    I'm not really sure why some of you are reading a link to the Olympics if you find it so dull? Personally, I will be booking the entire duration off work, and this will be our summer holiday. Think about how much you would spend to go and lie on a beach, and instead spending it on sporting events and a visit to our capital city....looking forward to it already!

  • Comment number 28.

    The only discipline I'm going to apply for is the Equestrian categories - one of the few areas in which men and women compete equally against each other. Also, no other sport can compare with the beauty of dressage, the thrill of cross-country or the tension of show jumping.

    Am very much looking forward to it!

  • Comment number 29.

    The tickets are very expensive. It will be interesting to see if they manage to sell them. A lot of people obviously want to go, just to say they went, but the pricing is ridiculous. £20 for the cheapest seats, but if you want to go and see an Athletics session when a medal is decided it will cost you at least £50. I doubt there will be that many tickets available at these prices and obviously the view will not be great, most likely in the corner just before the finishing straight which means you haven't a view of the finishing line. I went to the Don Valley stadium a few years ago and paid £10 to see a day of top class athletics and had a seat right on the finishing line. Despite this you see very little of the 100m race as it is over so quickly, much better watching on the TV with countless slow motion reruns. I am also going to Sheffield in a few weeks to see the world short track speed skating world championships and that is costing me a fiver, so just shows how overpriced the olympics are.

  • Comment number 30.

    Great stuff! The excitement of seeing plans for major sport just down the road... the highlighter is out looking for what I'm going to apply for tickets for, but with the major issue of "what if I win all the tickets I apply for?!", "How will I pay for them all?!" "WHY DID THEY DECIDE ON THIS MAD TICKETING POLICY?!"!!! All they needed to do was add another stage to ticketing. You apply, you find out if you've won tickets, you get 14 days (or something like that) to confirm attendance and pay, any rejected tickets go on general sale! EASY!!!

  • Comment number 31.

    The best day will be #17; when it's all finished and forgotten

  • Comment number 32.

    Hello all. A quick message for Murk and Chris_PE27, who are concerned that they're still applying to become volunteers but won't hear back until long after the initial ticketing process closes.

    I've called LOCOG on your behalf and spoken to them about this. Their advice is as follows:

    "You should still try to buy tickets. There will be opportunities for people to resell or exchange tickets via the London 2012 website if it turns out they are unable to attend because they are volunteering. Alternatively, the tickets will be a great Christmas present for another family member!"

    I should add that when LOCOG say you can resell or exchange tickets, that relies on someone else wanting to buy them. Even if you're selling in order to volunteer, LOCOG will not buy your tickets back from you.

    The other thing to point out is that it's unlikely all tickets will sell during the initial period in March and April. Some tickets, especially for team sports, are likely to be left over and sold on a first-come, first-served basis afterwards. (But it may be a brave man or woman who relies on that approach and holds off until late 2011, once the volunteering decisions have been made.)

  • Comment number 33.

    on ticket pricing:
    Some people here are only loking at this from a single person perspective.
    I want to take my family to see the Gymnastics team events - well, to get a seat with anything like a decent view is in excess of £95+ per head.
    Just getting to the arena will cost us £300. Then 5 x £95. Food for the day only available from (hugely inflated) arena vendors ...

    Would Mr Coe like to tell us just how this is "affordable" for the vast majority of families up and down teh land?

  • Comment number 34.

    I'm surprised they havent got one of the usual big ticket agencies involved so that they can stick on 'convenience' fees and booking fees and credit card charges etc then charge you £2.50 for posting out the tickets to you. Or maybe they have.

  • Comment number 35.

    Cannot wait! I'll be taking my four-year-old to as many events as i can, specifically the sessions where there'll be special prices available for youngsters. 100m mens qualifying for £20 and a few spare bob for my son? That sounds like a very reasonable price to me, especially for a once-in-a-lifetime event. Also excited about witnessing some of the less fashionable sports, like handball. I just want to witness the whole atmosphere. Don't care whether it's a final or a qualifier; men or women; global game or minority sport. I for one will be having a few very special days out!

  • Comment number 36.

    A Premier League game in London costs around £40-50 for an average seat. I've paid £70 for a Champions League ticket this season. I don't see how £50 is a rip off (bareing in mind that this includes your London transport as well). It's no doubt better value for money as the sessions will last a lot longer as well.

    As people have already pointed out - this is a once in a lifetime experience. I just don't understand the negativity.

  • Comment number 37.

    @11; Sorry, I should have qualified that; if you're looking to, say, go to two sessions every day of the Games and watch a different sport each time then depending on what you choose I believe you will be having to fork out at least £1000.

    I accept that there are many £20 tickets on sale but let's face it, these are predominantly for the thin pickings of the minor preliminary matches; now it's clear the organisers are trying to convey that watching a Kazakh take on a Cuban in the first round of the wrestling will provide as much satisfaction as watching the 100m final, and that patently will not be the case.

    I'm not one of these naysayers who didn't want the Games to come over to London at all, I'm absolutely delighted that it's being held in the city I've grown up in, I just feel that I should be able to watch a large chunk of the SIGNIFICANT action for a rather more reasonable price than I'm being asked to.

    And that's not withstanding having to buy tickets for seats you're not told the location of, not allowing you to give preference options, committing you to buying any tickets you win in the ballot, and taking payment soon after which doesn't give you time to save up money to buy more tickets for significant events.

    Some sports have been priced reasonably, namely taekwondo, judo, hockey (surprisingly), football (also surprisingly), fencing, BMX cycling, boxing non-finals, badminton and archery - but some haven't, like weightlifting, water polo, equestrian and most notably beach volleyball, which isn't the most significant sport at these Games by any stretch of the imagination yet is commanding the highest prices.

    At the end of the day, we're living in times of relative hardship where people don't have a great deal of money to spend on frivolities like these - I presume many in this thread do, which is why they're being so blase about it - and it's not as though there'll be much time to try and save up to afford a bit extra.

    I think the most sensible approach to take is to put your name in the ballot for three or four of the big events, seeing what if anything you get and then try and pick up some of what will surely be a mass of unsold tickets sporadically in the run up to the Games themselves.

  • Comment number 38.

    I for one am quite excited at the prospect of being able to watch some of the Olympic events with my family...on TV at home.

    Now don't get me wrong; I am well aware that I may lose out on the atmosphere by not actually being there, but I KNOW I won't miss the journey into the city.

    To all those who have not booked time off work, may you all have smooth commutes during those 2 weeks!

  • Comment number 39.

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

  • Comment number 40.

    @37: You're correct in what you say, many people don't have lots of money to spend on such treats. I certainly wasn't being blasé about spending £70 on a football ticket. But this is something I save and budget for from time to time as it's something I love. I imagine the buzz of seeing an Olympics in my home city would far outweigh this though.

    I certainly don't imagine that too many people will go and watch an event a day. That really would be an expensive fortnight but for the majority who want to see a few days of competition, even without the cheapest tickets could probably do so for somewhere just over the £100 mark. And for those that can't, there is the opportunity to watch the marathon and road cycling for free. And not to mention the dozens and dozens of free community events. Plus there will be big screens scattered around which will hopefully build a 'Henman Hill' type atmosphere.

  • Comment number 41.

    @32: Ollie, as far as I'm concerned it should be tickets first, volunteering second - and also, if volunteers have got a ticket for a session they're being told to miss because of a shift, I wonder how many of them will say to their supervisors "you either let me go or I'm walking out of here and you'll have to find someone else to do my job".

    At the end of the day you're a volunteer, there's nothing compelling you to be there, and I'm being asked to stand at an information point during the 100m final when I've got a ticket for it, I know which I'd rather choose.

    Incidentally, I rather resent the fact that you and your BBC Sport colleagues are acting a mouthpiece for LOCOG in trying to artificially stir up demand by getting us worried that a large proportion of the tickets will be snapped up in this window; I feel confident that many, many tickets will be unsold and that's why I don't feel like a "brave man" in biding my time to pick up tickets later on in the process.

  • Comment number 42.

    Suprise suprise, many [not all] of these micro blogging web wannabee commandos moaning about the pain this event will bring. Wake up and look out of the window, we've got a world to build! Sport might not be everyone's cup of tea but it is to many, many more. And remember, this is somewhere where GB wins things! Hurrah!

  • Comment number 43.

    I don't understand why some people are so negative about the 2012 Olympic games in London. I think it is a great honour for us to host it and the financial and social rewards will be substantial.

    However, I do hope that our opening and closing ceremonies display the best of British and aren't politically correct garbage like our effort at the Beijing closing ceremony. This is a chance to really show off the great and unique things about Britain. Let's put on something truly impressive.

  • Comment number 44.

    @32: Thanks Ollie for contacting LOCOG. I still agree with Murc that this is a totally unnecessary and shoddy way to treat volunteers. I am not sure many people will be in a position to give away hundreds of pounds worth of tickets to family members or tie up that amount of cash for so long without knowing the outcome.

    @41: I agree LOCOG could be causing themselves some serious problems with this. If a large number of volunteers also become ticket holders … it’s a problem they need not have caused themselves

  • Comment number 45.

    I'm really pleased it'll only be £20 to see some events .... oh, and the £200 that train operators will be charging for a return trip from the North West during that fortnight... and the £100 minimum per person for a bed for the night! I suspect for me and my family/friends, the 'live' experience will be via a television screen...

    Sorry, but as with over 90% of the population, I don't live in London, so the Olympics may as well be held in Timbuktu .... on second thoughts, it'd be cheaper to get there!

  • Comment number 46.

    I am really looking forward to the Olympics. It's like a chance to blow the country I love an enormous kiss on the smackers. I am sure the BBC will see it that way too!

  • Comment number 47.

    I'm not negative about any of this, i'm looking forward to going but am dreading choosing what exactly to see, mainly down the the uncertainy of how much I will end up paying. Do they expect us to blindly sign up for several events that could cost a total of either £60 or £400? That's a serious difference in prices - one is a weekends going out money and the other the equivelant to a mortgage payment.

  • Comment number 48.

    What a complete waste of time and money.

  • Comment number 49.

    Even though I do not live anywhere near London (thank heavens for that) I was intrigued to see the prices and all I can say is what an absolute rip-off. Obvious that that toadying little gnome Coe has got to repay the massive debt somehow.

    Not even near and I can't wait for it to finish.

    Keith Mc
    (sits back and awaits being moderated into oblivion)

  • Comment number 50.

    £50 to watch a game of football????????????????

    Are you mad!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 51.

    A special request to the BBC editors: please please please show the women's INDOOR volleyball (beach as well), for obvious reasons. Last time round reason, despite indoor volleyball being a regular event throughout the Olympics, you only provided highlights of a couple of games near the end.

  • Comment number 52.

    @45 - There's another cost I think people have forgotten about as well; the cheapest tickets may be £20, but how much will they actually be when the hated Ticketmaster have applied their processing, handling and postage fees?

  • Comment number 53.


    You would need a bank loan (if the banks are willing to lend you money) to take your typical family to watch the Olympics.

    I have worked out that to go to one football game would cost me and my family over £300 (tickets + travel + food and drink).

    It is an utter disgrace.

  • Comment number 54.


    Do people actualy read/listen to announcements in press re: the Games?

    @52 - Tickets won't be sold via 3rd party. Only 2012 website.

    @45/49 - Old Trafford is hosting football. So it might only be Men's U-23 and Women's competition but you can still be part of the experience.

    And as for those criticising LOCOG for the way they are handling the recruitment process. They're having to screen 250k applications, and then interview 100k people. 30 mins an interview and you're looking at over a year. There's no way they can wait for people to decide what tickets they may or may not want before starting the selections. If you're lucky enough to be chosen as a volunteer and have purchased tickets I'm sure you can swap shifts with someone if you really need to!

    Plus, not sure why people are moaning about the prices now, the price list has been published for months!

  • Comment number 55.

    I am outraged at the price of tickets for the 2012 London Olympics. An average Category C seat for the Gymnastics Team final is £185. I live in the North-West of England and 2 hours of gymnastics would cost a family of four; £740 for tickets, £300 for one nights accommodation, £120 for petrol, £300 for food and drink, not to mention £60 for transport in London. This would mean a total cost of £1520. Thank-you Mr. Coe. I for one will be refusing to subsidise your corporate chums by not taking my family to the Games. The Olympics should be for the people of Britain and not just Visa Card executives.

  • Comment number 56.

    I think the BBC is the best place to watch the Olympics, not live.

    None of the waiting around for events to be set up, No high priced concession stands, No high ticket price (bar the licence fee), No lottery of a ticket allocation, No tall person standing up every 5 minutes in the seat in front, Ability to watch every sport and no risk of getting to London only for it to rain for the next 2 weeks.

    So having looked at the schedule, all that's left is to sit back on a comfy sofa and relax.
    £1500 on tickets? You can get 2 very nice TVs set up for that!

  • Comment number 57.

    It's looking like the £20 tickets to the Mens 100m Heats could be the most oversubscribed ticket at the entire games.

    In the times we're living in the ticket prices do look a bit high.

    I would love to win the equivalent of the national lottery and get some £20.12 tickets for the opening ceremony just means i'd have to come down twice not sure thats really on budget. The plan at the moment would be to come down for a £20 Athletics session in the morning, two games of Basketball in the afternoon, another £20, and two cheapish tickets for the boxing/diving/handball/hockey/water polo in the evening. £120-140 for the two of us. I just don't want tickets for everything!!

    It's a once in a lifetime thing and i'll never see it again. For £60-70 for a day out, compared to West End/Premier League/Concert Tickets it's not that bad!

  • Comment number 58.

    How great to have this breakdown as a heads-up on how to organise one's bystanding, ticket buying, tv watching! Really useful. Have book marked this so I can go back and revisit it as the time approaches. Thank you.

  • Comment number 59.

    @55...£300 for food and drink?!? Are you a family of 4 who can only eat gourmet food? I very much doubt that you will have to spend anywhere near that much but then by not quoting an outragous figure you are not really making your point are you? If you are so angry about what you see as over inflated prices and the inconvience that these games will cause then a BBC blogging web page is not really the right place to be, I bet you are also one of the 100 odd people who have complained about Rastamouse.
    I am very much looking forward to these Olympics and will simply pick sports and rounds of the events that are within my budget, as being a part of the occasion will be worth it by a very long way!

  • Comment number 60.

    @54: As you say, the tickets will be only sold through the London 2012 site, but that's going to be administered by Ticketmaster - their logo was at the bottom of the first released list of prices - and if you've ever had the misfortune of buying tickets from them in the past, you'll know that they charge you an extra 10-20% of the ticket price in fees.

    And as for volunteers, why couldn't they have just delayed the sale of tickets until later in the year so at least most of the hopefuls would've had a clearer idea of what their commitments would be? Furthermore, LOCOG have explicitly stated that nobody will be allowed to swap shifts to attend an event; if you've got a ticket that clashes, you'll have to take your chances in the re-sale program.

    @57: I think the ceremonies tickets will be the most oversubscribed in the Games, personally, you could have millions trying to get those.

  • Comment number 61.

    @60 - Personally cannot understand why anyone would pay money to go to an opening ceremony ...

    But thinking further on the ticketing - have just worked out that if I satisfy the family (of 5) ambition and go to the Gymnastics Team event, it will cost me more than the family holiday planned for a week in July.
    .. just can't be done, sorry Seb.

  • Comment number 62.

    I am so excited!

    I have spent the morning planning my schedule for the games and will be getting the time off work asap!

    To people moaning about the prices, the Blue Ribbon events like the 100m final will cost a lot of money i'm afraid. I'm haviung to decide whether I watch the cycling finals or athletics as I cant afford both. Cest la vie. I'm making the most of the cheap prices on Handball, Table Tennis, and Tennis and getting my fill of other sports and you never know, might be inspired to take one up. I've worked out that attending 7 events will cost me £265 which at under £38 per event isnt too bad i think

    I so can't wait for this next year. And look forward to the BBC's immense coverage

  • Comment number 63.

    Had a look at the ticket prices and for those events where I am able to do a comparison with what's charged at equivalent non-Olympic events it doesn't seem so bad. The tennis prices seem to be similar to what I've paid for tickets at Wimbledon and the football prices seem similar to what I've paid for an England game at Wembley.

    I've signed up to volunteer for the entire Games through my employer, who're a corporate sponsor, so I won't be able to apply for tickets and won't have the chance to see much on TV, but if I wasn't I'd be applying for tickets to watch one of the sports I don't normally watch.

  • Comment number 64.

    @59: I'm just saying what it would cost me. We like good food so £75 per person over two days of eating and drinking out is nothing. I could also drive a smaller car and use less petrol. I could stay at a cheaper hotel. I could buy cheaper tickets in rubbish seats or for meaningless events too. My 5 year old daughter likes gymnastics and would expect to see medals presented at the end of the session. Otherwise she would think the whole trip pointless. At the end of the day I've made a decision on what it would cost me. In my eyes the ticket prices for families having to travel from outside of London aren't anywhere near value for money. Especially when you have to factor in travel and accommodation expenses too. Over 2 million tickets are being given away to corporate and media people. I've made a decision not to subsidise their freebies via the cost of tickets I might have purchased.

  • Comment number 65.

    Since when have London ever thought there were people who lived in England outside of London? Cost of travel/accommodation was probably never even considered.

    I hope the games are a flop for London in all honesty - the idea of Coe and co smiling away infront of us cos they successfully managed to con the public into handing over huge amounts of money turns my stomach.

    One day sports fans will try and get ridiculous ticket prices driven back down to sane levels, but until then, the likes of Coe and other suits will not be getting a penny from me

  • Comment number 66.

    Wholeheartedly agree with Kapnag!! I live in Northern Ireland. Nothing required from us but our money. No training venues, no Olympic heritage just hand over your cash. Imagine the cost of getting to London from here never mind accommodation costs!! Londoners never think of other English people, much less the Scots, Welsh and last on the list Northern Ireland.

  • Comment number 67.

    May I point out to all those affirming that this will be 'a once in a lifetime experience', that there are many people drawing breath now (and hopefully next year) who were also alive in 1948. So for them the London Olympics will be a twice in a lifetime experience... Or do the correspondents to this blog just ignore people in their 70s and 80s (much as the NHS does, apparently)?

  • Comment number 68.

    When this bid was being sold to us it was going to be "an Olympics for the whole country". The published schedule shows almost everything of any consequence being staged in the evening or morning, effectively excluding everyone outside of London from attending unless fill the coffers of the London tourist industry. What a betrayal of our trust. Please explain why you lied to us.

  • Comment number 69.

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

  • Comment number 70.

    I'm very keen on all sports and registered with London 2012 ticketing as soon as I could. I have a football season ticket, a county cricket membership, Sky subscription - so I'm used to spending £1,000+ a year on sport just for me.
    As a dry run for the Olympics, I took my daughters to the O2 for the Worlds last year. We went in the cheapest seats for the women's all-round final, which I recall cost something like £35 each - reasonable enough. Food was outrageously expensive of course!
    The view however was dreadful. I note that tickets for the equivalent session at the Olympics is £50, which is okay (but with a family most people could not afford too many of these events even at those prices.)
    Actually to be able to see something of what's going on, though, would cost £185 each (in the middle price tier). I've also read that approximately 20% of tickets will be at each price tier, so these are by no means "good" seats. I would therefore be looking at £740 just on tickets for one two hour event. That would be a once-in-a-lifetime treat!
    I just worry that there may be empty seats - perhaps not at the top price (£450 each for this event, say, of £1,600 for a family of four); there are some very rich people around...... But if you're rich, you'll want the top tier. I don't see many takers for the £295 second priced tickets.
    My concern about prices then is not with the lowest tier (or even second lowest for some events) - and not really with the top, because they've got to get the money from somewhere, but with the middle tiers.

  • Comment number 71.

    Dave thanks for this helpful guide, although it is perhaps a bit too focused on British interest.

    One of the bigger storys of the Olympics could be the Phelps vs Thorpe duel in the pool. When should I be looking to buy the tickets? Any idea which event they will be definitely both competing in, and with a strong chance to reach the final? I was thinking trying the 400m freestyle final, or should I go for earlier heats to be sure to see them?

  • Comment number 72.

    I know exactly what I'll be doing on Olympics Super Saturday...I'll be getting married!!!

  • Comment number 73.


    A wonderful article and really helpful for me to decide which days to try and enjoy the action in person and which to sit at home and watch everything unfold.

    However I have 2 dilemmas when trying to decide which tickets to buy:

    1. I live in Leeds and obviously don't want additional costs of having to stay overnight, I want to go back home on the train. If I want to go to the athletics one evening which finishes at 10.00-10.30pm how can I be sure that there will be a train late enough to get me back home. Is work being done with train companies etc to have more trains or later trains to and from London from main cities and towns during games time?

    2. I want to go and see 1 night of athletics live, 1 night of swimming live etc. Clearly any tickets are likely to be oversubscribed, particularly in the cheaper price categories and therefore it will be a lottery as to whether you are allocated a ticket or not. If I just apply for 1 night of athletics then I might not get it and the rest sell out, meaning I can't go. However, if I apply for several nights of athletics in order to increase my chances then I could end up in getting all sessions, and I can't afford to go down to London on multiple occasions and pay ticket prices for every session!! Any idea how I can get around this?

    Finally, different subject, but in your role as organising the TV viewing, any clues on to what will be chosen as the theme tune yet?

  • Comment number 74.

    Would like to know if anyone has any news on what will happen with tickets for Athetes Parents , Partners and Familes. Our daughter is supposed to be a medal hope (although still needs to qualify) but we have had no firm info on how to obtain tickets, do we wait until after trials which by then all the tickets will be sold or will we get the option to purchase tickets after qualification ? I do recall an article months ago on this webste confirming an offer of 2 tickets per family , 1 ticket for some events will be made but nothing has been firmed up by the BOA etc, the other option is we try to purchase tickets in the normal way and sell them on if we don't require them.What a mess ! wouldnt like to be my husband if he needs to fight me for the ticket to watch one of our daughters races !

  • Comment number 75.

    For the 4 events I would like to apply for tickets, will cost me a total of £1650, yes that is One Thousand Six Hundred and Fifty Pounds. What a disgraceful RIP OFF these 'Games' will be. Instead I shall take my family on a 2 week holiday to Trinidad for the same price. Mr Coe you should be ashamed.

  • Comment number 76.

    I cannot for the life of me believe that it is less then eighteen months now until the start of the games and the time has surely flown by so fast! Before you know it, it will be July 27th! One year to go! I have alredy started saving for tickets (given the fact that I'm resigning to the idea that I will not make it as a volunteer) and about to book my two weeks off work for next year so I'm rearing to go. I'm so excited, its gonna be the best summer this country will ever have in our lifetime.

  • Comment number 77.

    Rather than the imperative 'What to watch.....', shouldn't it be 'What you can watch'? After all, it's the BBC who is the public servant.

  • Comment number 78.

    @54 "And as for those criticising LOCOG for the way they are handling the recruitment process. They're having to screen 250k applications, and then interview 100k people. 30 mins an interview and you're looking at over a year"

    Easy. Start processing earlier (too late, but could have been planned for). Sell tickets later.... simples.

    Or say to volunteers that they will help 'match' volunteers with tickets with other volunteers for up to X days and thus arrange swapsies.... or that volunteers with tickets will be the only category of people with a buy back guarantee from the organisers... or even at least email them with a version of @32.... or any of the above

    ---- the silence the volunteers are getting is deafening, and goodwill (at least from where I'm sitting) is rapidly disappearing.

  • Comment number 79.

    The schedule looks amazing and I'm equally excited, even though it's realistically quite a while off... can't wait to get back to the UK for this after my travels in Africa.

    Not much hype happening down here at all about the Olympics as yet - probably because everyone's still experiencing the tail end of the World Cup euphoria from last year! No doubt the athletics news coverage in South Africa at least would kick off with some new controversy about Caster Semenya, gender testing and the like - entertaining, but hardly anything like the awesome BBC coverage.. Looking forward to it!

  • Comment number 80.

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

  • Comment number 81.

    What I'm struggling with is how many tickets to apply for. We (two adults, one child) really want to go to at least one event, but given that our top event is cycling (very popular), I think we probably need to apply for a number of different days. But I have no sense at all as to how likely we'd be to get tickets - so I have no idea whether to apply for 2 days or the whole lot. We can't afford to pay for tickets for more than one or two events, so I can't throw caution to the wind and just apply for all of them. But then I worry that we won't get any tickets at all!
    I'm really frustrated by it to be honest - I wish they had put some thought into a buyback system, or something that allowed you a few days to accept or reject. I see from earlier posts that they are allowing something like this for volunteers, but it feels unfair that people will have to limit the number of tickets they apply for (with all that this implies in terms of the likelihood of them getting tickets at all) because they simply can't afford to pay for more than one or two tickets.

  • Comment number 82.

    Now it appears that there is not ENOUGH money for our Athletes to compete, WHERE HAS ALL THE MONEY GONE???????????

  • Comment number 83.

    Really looking forward to the London Olympics and the schedule makes it sound even more exciting now that I read it.


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