More Olympic agony as another 15,000 miss out on tickets
The general sports-watching public could be excused for thinking that they are being required to draw on similar levels of dedication and perseverance to get in to watch the Olympics as the athletes seeking to qualify to compete in the Games themselves.
Yesterday it was confirmed that more than 15,000 people who missed out on the original ballot last month had failed for a second time to secure a ticket after taking part, on this occasion, in a first-come, first-served bid to watch an event.
Organisers blamed the disappointment on the failure of the online sales system to update quickly enough. It followed a day of frustration in front of computer screens on Friday when the system struggled to cope with the level of demand and 10 sports sold out in the first 15 minutes. A London 2012 spokeswoman said only 10 per cent of applicants had been unsuccessful. "Over 150,000 applications have been processed since Friday for around 850,000 tickets," she said.
The final tranche of tickets will be made available in a third round in December when 1.3 million go on sale. Meanwhile the best opportunities lay in seeing hitherto less popular events such as Greco-Roman wrestling or volleyball. There are more than a million tickets still available for the football.
Lord Coe has insisted that everything is being done to help those who want a ticket. Locog, which is seeking to raise £500m from ticket sales, has said that it aims to get two-thirds of the original 1.2 million applicants who missed out into an event.
Amid mounting complaints over the complexity and apparent unfairness of the system as well as criticism that 5 per cent of the available tickets have gone to non-British fans under EU rules, there are still some ways to enjoy the greatest sporting show on earth free of charge.
At present the opportunities are limited to events staged beyond the Olympic Stadium. But even in the cases of the marathon and the race walking events, tickets have been sold at the most sought-after locations including the finishing and starting lines.
What you can watch – without a ticket
Starting and finishing at The Mall, the 250km road cycling course snakes around south-west London and Surrey. Thousands of bike fans are expected to line the route as the peloton sweeps across the Thames through Richmond Park before heading deep into leafy stockbroker belt. Perhaps the best vantage point could be at Box Hill near Dorking.
Anything but a stroll, this is one of the most gruelling challenges and will be on display for all on the streets of London next summer. Competitors will complete multiple loops of the 2km course, taking in The Mall and Constitution Hill, above, for three free events – the men's and women's 20km race and the men's 50km race walk.
Unlike at previous Olympics, the marathon will not finish in the stadium. Competitors will instead complete three laps of an eight-mile loop plus a shorter circuit beginning and ending in front of Buckingham Palace. Sadly you will need a ticket to witness the finishing-line climax but drama is anticipated at the tight turns around St Paul's Cathedral and Birdcage Walk.
The capital's landmarks will again provide the backdrop to the world's fastest-growing sport. But only the triathlon's 40km cycling discipline will be on display to those without a ticket. Having completed a 1,500m swim in the Serpentine, athletes will pedal for 40km through London. The key viewing areas will be at Wellington Arch and Buckingham Palace. Action returns to Hyde Park for the final 10km run.
Locog's plan to close Nothe Gardens in Weymouth to all but the lucky few able to buy a ticket while screening off the public park's sea views for others has not gone down well on the south coast. A sea-exclusion zone means even those with their own boats will be kept to within binocular-viewing distance. However, those without tickets will be able to join in the excitement at vantage points at Newton's Cove and a screen and stage at Weymouth Beach.
Cycling time trials
During his reign, Henry VIII's riverside palace provided the scene of much plotting and intrigue. For the Olympics, Hampton Court will play an altogether more benign role in the nation's history when it opens its Tudor gates to allcomers looking to catch a glimpse of the world's top cyclists competing against the clock over 44km for men and 29km for women. Riders will set out at 90-second intervals.
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