On your marks, get set, book! The race for 2012 Olympic tickets begins

The application process for tickets to the London 2012 Olympics opened at midnight last night, with organisers expecting the official website to be the world's third-largest online retail portal, after eBay and Amazon.

Locog, the Games' co-ordinating committee, can only estimate how many people will apply before the deadline on 26 April. But given that 2.5 million registered their interest in tickets in advance, the number of applications for individual events is likely to be in the tens of millions.

However, organisers have been emphasising that the process is "a marathon and not a sprint", so prospective spectators should not worry about missing out on those Greco-Roman wrestling tickets.

The process is not first-come-first-served; automated ballots will select tickets at random for oversubscribed events, and the window to apply runs until 26 April. There are 6.6 million tickets for the Olympic Games available to the British public in total. And with 645 sessions for 26 sports taking place at 34 venues across 19 days, there is plenty of choice available.

Nevertheless, as the biggest sporting event to ever take place in the UK, every event is expected to sell out. Even the less glamorous events such as archery, handball and synchronised swimming are on the wishlists of tens of thousands of people. The Korean martial art of taekwondo looks set to be a thumping big hit, and there could even be hearty cheers of "Britannia rules the waves" as Team GB competes in the water polo event at the Olympics for the first time in 56 years.

Where to apply for your tickets

Online at www.tickets.london2012.com or at branches of Lloyds TSB. Thomas Cook will be offering a range of "Games Breaks" in which tickets are included with accommodation, while Jet Set Sports have all-inclusive packages. Do not buy from anywhere else, as they are not legitimate vendors.



The most expensive tickets...

The best seats at the opening ceremony will cost £2,012.



...and the cheapest

There are 2.5 million tickets available at £20, covering every sport. Children aged under 16 can "pay their age", so a 12-year-old only costs £12. Some events are free: the men's and women's marathons, the cycling road race, walking races and triathlon cycling stage.

Best chance of seeing a British gold

Our highest hopes are with the cyclists, such as Chris Hoy and Victoria Pendleton. But as the velodrome holds only 6,000 people, their events will be massively oversubscribed. Instead, try getting off the beaten track and onto a bumpy one – Shanaze Reade is a real medal contender in the BMX racing, if you are after something a bit different that will not take up too much time, does not need in-depth knowledge of the rules and makes for great viewing.

The BMX arena surrounds an undulating course over which competitors bunny-hop (and crash), and it is right in the middle of the Olympic Park in the shadow of the velodrome. The action is squeezed into two-hour sessions over three days and Reade, who crashed in Beijing and ruined her medal hopes, should feature strongly.

If you want a cheap option with the prospect of British gold at the end of it, then the triathlon could provide one of the best spectacles of the Games. In the course of less than two hours, Alistair Brownlee will swim, cycle and run around Hyde Park and the Serpentine in pursuit of a medal.



Where to see Usain Bolt

Everyone expects the Jamaican sprinter to be in the 100m final on 5 August, but as that will be the most coveted ticket in town it would be wise to apply for the classification heats the day before as well. Don't forget that he also runs in the 200m and 4x100m relay events, so look out for those later in the month.

Not everything is in London

Events outside the Olympic village include football in Glasgow, Cardiff, Manchester, Newcastle and Coventry; sailing in Weymouth, Dorset; rowing in Buckinghamshire's Eton Dorney; mountain biking at Hadleigh Farm in Essex; and canoeing at the Lea Valley White Water Centre in Hertfordshire.



Maximise your chances...

If you really want to see one sport in particular, apply for several sessions across different days, especially earlier heats. And if you have your mind set on a specific final, mark yourself down for different price ranges. On the other hand, if you are less fussy about what sports you see, try some of the less hyped ones – such as handball or water polo.



...but don't get carried away

Although people applying for many different sessions are highly unlikely to get all the tickets they request, it might happen. Therefore work out what you can afford and set a strict budget before diving in – especially as you must have the funds available to buy whatever tickets you are allocated, and orders cannot be changed once they have been processed.



How to pay

Only Visa cards will be accepted on the internet. If you do not have a standard Visa debit or credit card, you can buy a pre-paid Visa card from a bank (you load cash onto the card to spend at a later date). Otherwise, you can apply for tickets using a cheque or postal order at branches of Lloyds TSB. Payments for successful applications will be taken between 10 May and 10 June, but you might not be notified of which tickets you have received until 24 June.



If it turns out you can't go...

A third of UK companies are expected to increase flexible working hours to allow staff to watch the Games. But if you cannot get time off or are unable to attend, a re-sale website will allow you to trade tickets at face value. You cannot sell tickets on eBay or other auction websites.



Advice for non-British applicants

If not a resident of the UK or one of the designated European countries, you will be required to apply for Olympic Games tickets via your local National Olympic Committee (NOC) from 15 March 2011 and Paralympic Games tickets from your National Paralympic Committee (NPC) from 9 September 2011.



Applications for corporate tickets

Only 1 per cent of the tickets will be for corporate buyers, but if you want some for your business you can apply online in the same way as for public tickets. Prestige Ticketing have exclusive access to official on-site hospitality packages.



Applications for the Paralympics

These open on 9 September, when 2 million tickets will be available.

With 500 days to go,

Olympic Park is on schedule

Sport, page 51

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
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