Fans queue for last chance to get Olympic Games tickets


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The Independent Online

With only days remaining Olympic fans are queuing up to get the last tickets of the Games.

And with only a handful of events to go they are prepared to endure some hardship – and a marathon 14 hour queue - to get their hands on them.

Wrapped in quilts, sleeping blankets and union jacks, hopefuls bedded down outside Czech House in Islington’s Business Design Centre from 10.30pm last night until today’s first tickets - ranging in price from £35 to £1000 depending on the event and seat location - went up for grabs at 12noon.

Among those asleep outside the front of the building by 3am was one man who fellow fans said had been there every night for the past three days hoping to get tickets to see Mo Farah run in the 5000m final.

At the front of the queue was university student Teesta Pabari, 20, from Harrow, who came down with brother Neal Pabari.

She said: “This is the last chance, so we might as well go all out and camp. Some of the shops around here have given us food to tide us over. Our parents said, go down there, have fun.

“We’re hoping to get tickets for our whole family.”

Friend Freddie Kleiner, 18, said: “We do get some odd looks but a lot of people just say good luck. We have also learnt the Czech words for ‘hello’, ‘how are you?’ and ‘flower’. It’s our summer holiday so we’ve got time to do this.”

Another student, Daniel Evans, 22, from Bexley, said: “My motivation for being here is purely financial. My granddad wants to get tickets for the athletics and has got more money than sense, so he has paid me £100 to sit here all night and keep his place until the morning.

“I’m not that interested in the Olympics personally.”

Eva Ondraskova, 26, visiting from the Czech Republic, said she was also holding a friend’s place in the queue.

At Holland House, Alexandra Palace, where there were waits of between six to eight hours yesterday, there was jostling in the queue and groans of disappointment as the office of Dutch Olympic ticket suppliers barred its doors at 8.30pm to all but those wanting early morning hockey match at £80 a piece.

Fans turned up there early in the morning hoping for their chance to watch a slice of the action at the final, much anticipated Olympic Park events.

Yesterday, France House at Old Billingsgate sold out, but tickets were still available at Czech House in the Business Design Centre in the early evening.

Canadian Glen Pye, 60, a self-confessed “events junkie” who has  been to eight Olympic Games, and his wife Terre Simanek, 41, were the last to buy tickets there.

They paid £420 for a pair of tickets to individual dressage at Greenwich Park, a sum they said was “worth it”.

Tanavi Patel, 30, a doctor from Birmingham, woke up at 6am to drive to the capital for a “last ditch” trawl for tickets.

She queued for three hours to pay £42 for today’s Australia v the USA women’s basketball semi-final.

She said: “In April 2011 when tickets came out I was trying but I didn’t get any. Then I gave up for a bit, but when the Olympics actually came round I saw some of it on TV and started trying again like everyone else.

“I knew people who had tickets and gave them up without asking me if I wanted them. I had applied to volunteer but I didn’t get to. I even went to the Olympic Park to see if I could find tickets for the Park itself. This is the third time I’ve driven down to try and get tickets.”

The Business Design Centre has been offering more tickets today but staff could not say when these will be available until, saying only “we sell out when we sell out”.

One doorman said: “People have been well behaved. They have been lying patiently on quilts on the pavement from 1am until we open at 12noon.

“One man came with his daughter and queued since 1am and paid a grand for tickets to the 100m final.”

While some hopefuls endured epic waits, others had a breezier experience.

Mario Pronti, 41, waited under 20 minutes to pay £130 for tickets to the ladies volleyball.

He said: “I’ve already been four times – to the archery, boxing, weightlifting and basketball. I was having drinks in the bar upstairs and I walked down here, and they said they still had tickets and I could join the queue if I wanted. The gods must be smiling on me.”

At official Hungarian fanbase the Archway Tavern, £35 tickets for kayaking at Eton Dorney were snapped up by punters, some of whom said they were planning to sell them on for a quick profit. The pub is expected to begin sales again at 6pm today