diamond geezer

 Saturday, June 18, 2011

London 2012  Olympic update
  The numbers game

At last, the emails have gone out to tell Olympic applicants whether they got any tickets or not. Not the emails which tell successful applicants which tickets they won - that particular agony is being prolonged a little longer. But you should know by now whether you got "some or all" of your allocation, or nothing. And if you got nothing, you might find some of the following figures illuminating...

Number of Olympic tickets: 8.8 million
Number of Olympic tickets on sale to the public: 6.6 million
Number of tickets given to sponsors, hospitality, international sales, media and IOC officials: 2.2 million
You can moan, you can whinge, you can complain how terribly unfair it is that 25% of the tickets weren't available to the public. And yes, in some high-profile events you'd be right to complain, because far more than 25% of the tickets were withheld for this reason. But remember that without sponsors we'd be spending far more of our taxes to pay for the Games, whereas this way big business keeps our share down. And you might still be lucky enough to win one of the sponsors' tickets through a product-related competition, they're not all for employees. Bet you don't though.

Number of Olympic tickets we thought were included in the ballot: 6.6 million
Number of Olympic tickets actually included in the ballot: 5.5 million
Number of tickets 'held back' for contingency reasons: about a million
Now this is naughty. One reason so many people haven't got any tickets is because the pool of tickets turns out to be 16% smaller than we thought it was. They've kept back some tickets to release later, for all events, "once the final seating plans for the venues are finalised." Not that they felt the need to warn us of this earlier. I find it astonishing how frequently LOCOG have dripfed selective information about the ticketing process, only to announce something later that isn't quite what we thought we believed. If Britain currently has zero faith in the fairness of the ticket allocation process, that'll be because the system has treated us like fools throughout.

Number of Olympic tickets up for grabs: 5.5 million
Number of Olympic tickets sold in the ballot: 3.2 million
Number of tickets left over for Second Chance Sales: 2.3 million
Hurrah, there are millions of tickets left. Admittedly many of these are in unpopular sports at inflated prices, but there are millions of tickets all the same. Who'd have guessed there'd be this many leftovers, given how many people appear to have ended up with nothing? But those who were unlucky enough to get no tickets in the first round now have first go in the second. Be at your keyboard at 6am next Friday and you can nip in and snap up whatever you like. It'll be first come first served, six tickets max, in no more than three events. There are even athletics tickets available, you lucky people. I don't know anyone who got athletics tickets, but you still might.

Number of Second Chance tickets: 2.3 million
Number of those tickets which are for football: 1.7 million
Number of Second Chance tickets for 'real' Olympic sports: 0.6 million
It's funny how nobody treats football as a proper Olympic sport. It's barely on the TV when Olympic fortnight comes round, nobody really cares who wins the gold, and buyers haven't exactly rushed to buy the tickets. The only match that's sold out is the men's final, and 90% of games still have tickets available in the lowest price range. Given this level of national indifference, I suspect those 1.7 million leftover soccer tickets might yet prove incredibly hard to shift.

Number of ticket applicants: 1.9 million
Number of successful ticket applicants: 0.7 million
Number of applicants who won bugger all: 1.2 million
How on earth can anyone justify an allocation system with far more tickets than people but which leaves two-thirds of applicants empty-handed? OK, so it's hard to prejudge demand, and demand turned out to be huge. But why whip up a frenzy of Olympic expectations, only to dash the hopes of the majority by giving them nothing? It's partly the public's own fault for piling into the showpiece events like athletics, swimming and cycling - events which were always likely to be massively oversubscribed - and not applying for anything less popular. But why did they do that? Because LOCOG deliberately failed to tell anyone how many tickets were available in any given price category. Only 4000 tickets were available at £20.12 for the Opening Ceremony, so it now turns out, yet there were 1.5 million requests. For the 100m final only a quarter of the seats were balloted, that's 21000 out of a stadium of 80000, leaving 1.2 million applicants disappointed. The Velodrome has seating for only 6000, in a country of 60 million, so the chances of winning a ticket at any given price range were always going to be tiny. If this process had been properly marketed as a ballot rather than a fairytale, there wouldn't now be quite so many people feeling 'cheated out of their rightful allocation'. Misguided optimism based on unrealistic expectations has left more than a million people unhappy, even furious, and it's going to be mighty hard to earn their goodwill back.

Number of applicants in the first round of Second Chance Sales: 1.2 million
Number of Second Chance tickets for 'real' Olympic sports: 0.6 million
Half a ticket each. It's not going to end well, is it?

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