Olympic spirit

Last October I wrote about the farce of holding the Summer Olympics football tournament in such ridiculous venues, grounds that were too big and come the start of the games would be half empty at best.  Last Friday the organising committee (Logoc) announced the results of the public ballot for tickets for all event.  Well, actually most people knew if they had tickets or not because of the farcical way in which the process has been handled.

In their email to the unlucky million plus applicants they said:-

“Demand for tickets greatly exceeded supply in the sessions and price categories you applied for. Where sessions were oversubscribed, we undertook a random ballot to allocate tickets in the fairest possible way. We had applications for more than 20 million tickets, seeing huge demand across many sports. Two-thirds of all price categories were oversubscribed and went to ballot.”

The initial statement the Logoc put out at the start of the application process was that there was 6.6million tickets up for grabs. This proved not to be exactly true.  In fact 5.5million were available in the first public ballot – a staggering difference that in other circumstances would see our media crying “foul”.  Out of these 5.5million, 3.2million were allocated in the ballot leaving 2.3million left ready for the second phase that is a “first come, first serve” with priority to those who missed out first time round from Friday 24 June.  As if that wasn’t a hard enough kick in the teeth, it was announced that it would be via Ticketmaster, a company who had not exactly covered themselves in glory in the past in having enough bandwidth to handle the demand for tickets.

The statement seemed fair enough until to investigate what sports are left to try and get tickets for.  Of the 2.3million tickets left you have a choice from twenty three events, but a staggering 1.7million tickets still remain for the Football. By 1pm today (Friday 24th June) only tickets for Wrestling, Weightlifting, Boxing and  Volleyball remained….oh and of course the Football. So it looks like your only chance to see anything of the Olympics if you haven’t already got your tickets is to apply for tickets for the football*

July 2012?

Out of the 58 games to be played in the tournament in six randomly distributed venues on 13 days, how many do you think have sold out?  One – the final of the mens tournament.  In total there are 137 different pricing segments in the football, of which only 14 have sold out.  In fact if you still want tickets you can apply for a maximum of 30 still in all but 6 games.

You can still apply for £20 tickets, the lowest price of any Olympic ticket in 49 of the 58 games (click here for details on what is still available).  Apart from a couple of days in Coventry, the rest of the United Kingdom appears to be a ghost town.  The idea of “taking the Olympics to the rest of Britain” is a farce.  As I said back in October, watching Fiji v Bermuda at Old Trafford is not going to instill that Olympic spirit in many locals.  So why did they choose some of the biggest grounds in Britain to host the tournament?  Because their eyes were as big as their bellies and they saw 76,000 sell outs with people paying an average of £33 a ticket.

I will be interested to see the tactic employed by Logoc if (sorry when) thousands of tickets still remain unsold after stage two.  What is the betting that they will find their way into local school childrens hands?  Nothing wrong with that, but it will be a PR disaster for the organising committee.

It is not the done thing to ever admit you are wrong.  Interestingly enough when Michel Platini came out in April and said UEFA had made a fundamental mistake in pricing for the Champions League Final at Wembley did he know that a decision to award the stadium the final again in 2013 on the agenda?  Time for him to be as good as his word.  But surely someone advising the Logoc must have said something when venues were being discussed?  London and the South East has some fantastic stadiums with modest capacities that would have been better suited to the spirit of the London Olympics.  Craven Cottage, the new Amex Community Stadium in Brighton, St Mary’s in Southampton, The Madejski in Reading.  The list is endless.

Or as the London Standard suggest – “Try entering one of the many competitions run by the official sponsors who have 8% of the tickets and will be giving many away.”  Helpful.

One final point.  Why not hold the final few matches in the actual Olympic Stadium itself?  After all it is the centre piece of the 2012 Olympics, and in some ways it is attending the games and experiencing the venue that will live in the memories, rather than the actual event itself.

So what are the bets at the end of phase two we are left with a million tickets for the football?  I would imagine the Logoc will have already a contingency in place to pass any unsold tickets out to the public, but that will be highly embarrassing for them.  As I said 8 months ago, some common sense goes a long long way.

*Of course there are other ways to get your hands on a ticket.  For instance Thomas Cook are selling a one night package to watch Handball and Basketball preliminary games FROM a bargain £309 EACH.  Of course you will get to enjoy the delights of Brentford Lock where you will be staying in a Holiday Inn, normally priced at £60 per room per night.

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