Australians slow out of the blocks for Olympics

DESPITE a new sports hero being wheeled out every day, from just- retired cricket captain, Mark Taylor, to the young star of Wimbledon, Jelena Dokic, efforts to persuade Australians to buy tickets for the Sydney Olympics next year have been branded a failure.

They have had the first pick of tickets to the Millennium Games, but have proved curiously reluctant to snap them up. The exclusive six-week period in which Australian residents could apply ended at midnight on Friday: despite a last-minute rush, the Sydney Morning Herald said, the marketing campaign has failed.

The Sydney organising committee reserved 5 million of the 9.6 million tickets for the Australian public, but in the first two weeks of the six- week ballot it received only 34,000 applications. By last week that had risen to "more than 50,000". Unless almost every Australian applied in the last day or two, the committee will end up with millions of unsold tickets.

In Sydney, the euphoria of 1993, when it learned it had won the contest to host the 2000 Olympics and let off an unprecedented number of fireworks from the Harbour Bridge, is all but exhausted. The business district is disrupted by building works, Bondi residents are objecting to the construction of a volleyball stadium which will shut half the beach for nine months, and shopkeepers on the route to Stadium Australia, the main venue, are complaining that traffic measures will ruin their businesses.

The main reason for reluctance to buy tickets for the Olympics, however, appears to be the cost. Apart from the finals of the athletics and swimming, the events most likely to be oversubscribed were the opening and closing ceremonies; but on those days more than 90,000 of the 110,000 seats in Stadium Australia have been designated "Class A", at A$1,382 (pounds 600) a seat. Most applications have been for the small number designated "Class D", at A$105.

To see the finals of the men's and women's 100 metres races will cost at least A$165, while the last session at the Aquatics Centre is priced at A$455.

In its defence the organising committee has pointed out that 70 per cent of tickets for the Olympics cost less than A$60, but that assumes people will be interested in watching more obscure events, such as archery, Graeco-Roman wrestling, and modern pentathlon.

"We're very comfortable with where we are," said John O'Neill, the organising committee's ticketing communications manager. "We think we will have a very good result."

Cynics are saying that the organisers deliberately overpriced tickets for the most popular events, confident that overseas demand from well- heeled foreign tourists will exceed supply.

But a survey of visitors to the 1996 Games in Atlanta suggests that most Olympics fans are interested only in the sport they have come to see, and by-pass other attractions. Far from staying in five-star hotels, eating and drinking in expensive restaurants and bars and seeking out cultural attractions as well as sport, the average Olympics visitor stays in a motel, eats at McDonald's and largely restricts spending to tickets for the most popular sporting events. Sydney, which has spent a million dollars on a facelift, from widening pavements to providing official fruit stalls, may reap less international income than it expects.

More and more Sydney residents - including the press officer of the Olympics Co- ordinating Authority, it has emerged - are planning to be away during the Games. This has given Melbourne, Sydney's traditional rival, an idea. If you are planning to rent out your house during the Olympics, the Victorian Tourist Commission is suggesting to Sydneysiders, why not come and spend three weeks in Melbourne?

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Sir David Attenborough
people
Life and Style
Young girl and bowl of cereal
food + drink
News
Comic miserablist Larry David in 'Curb Your Enthusiasm'
peopleDirector of new documentary Misery Loves Comedy reveals how he got them to open up
Arts and Entertainment
Henry VIII played by Damien Lewis
tvReview: Scheming queens-in-waiting, tangled lines of succession and men of lowly birth rising to power – sound familiar?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Sport
football
Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Ready to open the Baftas, rockers Kasabian are also ‘great film fans’
musicExclusive: Rockers promise an explosive opening to the evening
Life and Style
David Bowie by Duffy
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
Hell, yeah: members of the 369th Infantry arrive back in New York
booksWorld War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel
News
advertisingVideo: The company that brought you the 'Bud' 'Weis' 'Er' frogs and 'Wasssssup' ads, has something up its sleeve for Sunday's big match
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
i100
Environment
Dame Vivienne Westwood speaking at a fracking protest outside Parliament on Monday (AP)
environment
Life and Style
tech
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: This post arises as a result of the need to...

Tradewind Recruitment: Class Teacher Required ASAP In Uminster

£120 - £150 per annum: Tradewind Recruitment: I am recruiting on instruction o...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wimbledon, SW London

£24000 - £28000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wim...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness