WRITTEN BY SHARON ROBB
March 25, 2011
As London organizers started the 500-day countdown to the 2012 Olympics, 6.6 million tickets went on sale Tuesday.
London Organizing Committee chairman Sebastian Coe, a former middle distance running great for Great Britain, was among dignitaries including Olympic greats, five-time gymnastics champion Nadia Comeneci and nine-time gold medalist track star Carl Lewis, watched as the clock in central Trafalgar Square began counting down the 500 days before the Olympic torch is lit.
“It’s happening,” said Lewis, who competed in four Olympic Games. “It’s wonderful to get the bid. It’s wonderful to know it’s coming. But today you can actually start your opportunity to be a part of it.”
The Opening Ceremony is July 27, 2012. Great Britain is working with a $15 billion budget.
Olympic fans in Britain and Europe have a 42-day period to check out the official ticket website (www.tickets.london.2012.com) and plan out their itinerary from the 645 sessions for the 26 Olympic sports.
“Members of the public have until April 26 to apply,” Coe told reporters. “Tickets will not be sold on a first-come, first serve basis. There is no need to panic-buying on the first day.”
According to early reports, there were 2.5 million people trying to purchase tickets on the first day. Tickets for many sports start at $32 while the choice seats for the men’s 100-meter final, which hopefully will feature Coral Springs’ own Walter Dix, will go for $1200. Opening ceremony tickets top seats are going for $3,215.
One million tickets are also available to overseas fans through their national Olympic associations.
Co-Sport is the authorized ticket reseller and official hospitality package provider of the U.S. Olympic Committee. Ticket sales are under way in the U.S. and pre-registration is currently open for U.S. residents at www.cosport.com.
The first phase of ticket sales will be handled exclusively through an online request process which began on Tuesday and will run through April 22.
During the request phase all applicants will have an equal chance of being awarded their requested tickets.
CoSport will begin to fulfill ticket requests from available inventory once this initial request phase has concluded. In the case that ticket requests exceed available inventory for any session, a lottery process will be conducted by CoSport at the end of April.
For the initial U.S. ticket launch, more than 58,000 tickets will be available for purchase. More than 56 percent of tickets offered during this phase will be priced under $150.
CoSport currently plans to have a second phase of sales in June 2011 which will be first-come, first-serve for any tickets unsold during the first phase of sales, and will also include any additional tickets that CoSport acquires from the London Organizing Committee in the future.
The hospitality packages combine hotel rooms with Olympic tickets.
Because Visa is the Olympic Games sponsor, the USOC is only accepting Visa credit cards for London 2012 Olympic Games ticket purchases.
“The London 2012 Olympic Games promises to be one of the most compelling, exciting sporting events of the decade, and we are thrilled that fans will be able to watch the action live and in person by getting tickets through CoSport,” said USOC Chief Communications Officer Patrick Sandusky.
“Early interest in tickets for these Games tells us that America’s athletes will be well-supported in London as they strive to realize their Olympic dreams and represent the U.S. with pride.”
Of course, what would opening day be without a few glitches.
A few hours after tickets went on sale, fans with Visa cards that expire before the end of August were not able to process their orders. Organizers said it was an issue with Visa rather than the ticket website or systems.
The OMEGA countdown clock also suffered a technical issue that had it stopping for several hours less than a day after it went on display. It got stuck on 500 days, 7 hours, 6 minutes and 56 seconds before Omega engineers repaired it.
“It’s one of those windups set to test is, but it’s working again,” Coe said.
Coe said the clock would serve as a “daily reminder to everyone who visits Trafalgar Square that the countdown to the start of London 2012 has well and truly begun and that the greatest show on earth is soon coming to our country.”
Sharon Robb can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org://www.swim4soflo.com