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?

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Voices
Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'
voices

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

News
Brian Harvey turned up at Downing Street today demanding to speak to the Prime Minister

Met Police confirm it was a 'minor disturbance' and no-one was arrested

News
Blackpool is expected to become one of the first places to introduce the Government’s controversial new Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)
news

Concerns raised phenomenon is threatening resort's image as a family destination

Life and Style
gaming

I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title

News
Nigel Farage has backed DJ Mike Read's new Ukip song
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Shia LaBeouf plays a World War II soldier in forthcoming drama Fury
films

Eccentric Fury star, 28, reveals he is 'not a really confident actor'

Life and Style
Time and Oak have developed a product that allows drinkers to customise the flavour and improve the quality of cheaper whiskey
food + drink

Sport
football

Peter Biaksangzuala died from his injuries in hospital on Sunday

Life and Style
The final 12 acts will be facing Simon Cowell, Cheryl Fernandez-Versini, Mel B and Louis Walsh tonight
fashion

The X Factor's judges colourful outfit was mocked by Simon Cowell

News
news

Footage shot by a passerby shows moment an ill man was carried out of his burning home

News
people
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

Software Developer

£35000 - £45000 Per Annum Pensions Scheme After 6 Months: Clearwater People So...

Systems Analyst / Business Analyst - Central London

£35000 - £37000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Analyst / Busines...

Senior Change Engineer (Network, Cisco, Juniper) £30k

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Senior Change ...

Senior Change Engineer (Windows, Linux, VMWare) - London £35k

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Senior Change ...

Day In a Page

Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album
Hugh Bonneville & Peter James: 'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'

How We Met: Hugh Bonneville & Peter James

'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's heavenly crab dishes don't need hours of preparation

Bill Granger's heavenly crab recipes

Scared off by the strain of shelling a crab? Let a fishmonger do the hard work so you can focus on getting the flavours right
Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

After a remarkable conversion from reckless defender to prolific striker, Monaco's ace says he wants to make his loan deal at Old Trafford permanent
Terry Venables: Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England

Terry Venables column

Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England
The Inside Word: Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past

Michael Calvin's Inside Word

Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past