London 2012: Olympics tickets deadline expires

media captionLord Coe, Chairman of London 2012: "There's been a massive surge of interest"

The deadline for buying Olympics tickets has expired, after organisers extended it by an hour due to a last-minute surge in demand.

The London 2012 website accepted sales until 0100 BST on Wednesday, pushing the time limit forward from the original 2359 BST Tuesday deadline.

Because of the large numbers of people trying to access tickets, the website came under severe strain from 2230 BST.

Managers denied it had crashed but said it had been slowed by demand.

An hour before the midnight deadline, some users were met by a holding message on the website which read: "We're experiencing high demand. You will be automatically directed to the page requested as soon as it becomes available.

"Thank you for your patience."

By 2330 BST the site appeared to be functioning normally and allowing visitors to the site to sign in and register for tickets.

In a statement the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (Locog) said it had still been processing applications throughout, albeit more slowly.

There are 6.6 million tickets on sale to the public.

Applications will be processed in May and June and those who have been successful will be notified by 24 June.

Tickets will be allocated by ballot.

Organisers said people should ensure they had money in their account to pay for every event they have applied for.

Before tickets went on sale on 15 March, more than 2.5 million people had signed up to the official website.

'Massive surge'

Standard prices range from £20 to £2,012 - the top ticket for the opening ceremony - and oversubscribed events will be decided by a random ballot.

There has been criticism of the prices, the ballot system and the fact that money is taken from accounts before applicants know which events they have secured.

But organisers said for more than 200 sessions, children under 16 paid the same number of pounds as their age, and those over 60 were charged £16.

Chairman of London 2012 Lord Coe said there was a "massive surge" in ticket applications over the weekend and those people applying on the last day stood as good a chance as those who applied earlier.

Asking people to try for the "less obvious" sport events, he conceded that about half of the tickets for big events would be available for ordinary people.

He said: "Overall, 75% of the tickets there are for public application. That's the rough split. But... for some of the bigger events, that will come down."

There were 650 sessions across 26 sports and 17 days to choose from and people were limited to a maximum of 20 events each.

The most popular events, including the men's 100m final, had a limit of four tickets per person.

'Incredible' interest

But it was not clear how many tickets have been sold as Olympics organisers refused to release data, said the BBC's sports editor, David Bond.

London 2012 chief executive Paul Deighton had urged applicants only to ask for as many tickets as they could afford to buy, even though they were not guaranteed to receive any.

He had said that since last Friday the number of applications had jumped from "a high level to a really high level".

He said the last week had seen "three or four times the applications above and beyond what was coming in for the previous five weeks".

Despite being aware there would be "incredible" interest in the final days before the applications closed, he had expressed confidence that the system could cope and avoid a meltdown.

Any unsold tickets are expected to be made available in further ballots, along with the possibility of additional tickets for higher-profile events being released as venues are tested and capacities finalised.

Organisers will now begin matching demand with sessions.

London 2012 needs to raise £500m from the sale of tickets.

Applications for tickets for the Paralympic Games open on 9 September.

UK applicants for both Games were advised only to use the official 2012 website, which includes a service to check whether other ticketing sites are legitimate.

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