When hundreds of thousands of sports fans had money debited from their accounts last month, they knew they had secured a ticket for next year's Olympic Games. But no one who had applied for more than one event could be certain which one they were going to attend.
All changed yesterday morning when an email from the London 2012 ticketing team informed 700,000 people of what event they had won tickets to watch. The email read: "Congratulations! You have been allocated some of the greatest tickets on earth!" Those who had previously only known whether they had been successful or not immediately began to share their news.
In total, 1.9 million people applied in the first round with 1.2 million ending up without a ticket. Demand was greatest for the Opening Ceremony, athletics, track cycling, swimming and the artistic gymnastics. More than 2 million ticket requests were received for the Opening Ceremony and more than a million for the men's 100m final, with in excess of 5 million requests for athletics tickets alone.
As first-round applicants discovered what they had been assigned, beach volleyball and handball became trending terms on Twitter. The radio presenter Richard Bacon tweeted to his followers: "So I got 2 for diving and 4 for The Closing Ceremony (great). Although I thought I'd have more than 6 tickets to show for 3 grand."
The satirist Armando Iannucci tweeted: "Yes. Didn't get 95 per cent of the Olympics tickets I asked for. But DID get a night at the Athetics. Hockey and Rowing must be full then."
England cricketer Graeme Swann told his followers he was "gutted" he did not get tickets for the steeplechase, while former Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone told The Independent he had received "five Olympic tickets for the football semi-finals at Wembley".
Those who missed out completely will be given the first opportunity to buy some of the 2.3 million tickets available in the second round of sales.
Tickets for more than 300 sessions and 22 sports are still available, but 1.7 million of the remaining tickets are for football. Volleyball and hockey have the second and third largest availability. There will be 1.5 million tickets costing £50 or less and over half of these will cost £20 or less, according to London 2012.
Paul Deighton, chief executive of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (Locog), said he was "very sorry" so many people had missed out on tickets but that he was determined to ensure that two-thirds of those who had originally applied would end up with a ticket.
He said: "We know a lot of people missed out, we are very sorry about it and we want to fix it as well as we can by the second round process and subsequent rounds of sales."
The British Olympic Association (BOA) has insisted its decision to allow Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish football players to play for Team GB at London 2012 is not a ploy to shift unsold tickets. The agreement has triggered anger from those football associations, who fear their independence may be threatened. BOA chief executive Andy Hunt said: "There is absolutely no connection whatsoever between the timing of the announcement and (the new batch of tickets)."
Those who applied by post for tickets will receive a letter by Friday, when the second round of sales begins.
How to get remaining Olympic tickets The second-round sale of tickets will begin at 6am on Friday 24 June, and the first 10 days of sale, until 6pm on 3 July, will be open exclusively for those who failed to get any tickets in the first round. Applicants who received tickets but missed out on their favourite sports can get another chance to secure a seat from 6am on 8 July to 6pm on 17 July
Jorone Taylor-Lewis is a basketball coach in his spare time. He applied for £800 worth of basketball tickets and got none, but he did receive £46 of women's volleyball tickets.
"It's ridiculous, more than anything I wanted to watch basketball, it is my passion and this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I put myself down for one ticket in every price bracket. It doesn't really make a lot of sense."
Sam Haddad, 34, from south London, wanted to see track cycling but got two tickets for men's table tennis and two for athletics.
"My partner and I applied for £3,000-worth of tickets and being a Londoner and having paid taxes towards it, I always imagined we would get the tickets we wanted. I know we are really lucky, though, to have athletics and I can't wait to see Usain Bolt – it is something to tell the grandchildren about."
Liam Callaghan, 23, works for the port authority in Middlesbrough, and is "ecstatic" to be able to see the archery, badminton, football and hockey.
"If I had got one ticket, I would have been ecstatic; the fact I got four sets is unbelievable," he says. "I think the fact we went for some bizarre things – like archery and badminton – helped our chances, but the fact I can see football for £20 at Wembley with my girlfriend is brilliant."
Rachael Crewesmith, 25, an IT assistant from Cardiff, applied for 29 tickets across 13 events but got just two tickets to the freestyle dressage final.
She says she was "disappointed" and "confused" by her lack of tickets, especially considering there are still tickets left for the hockey competitions for which she applied. "I was planning on coming to London for the whole three weeks of the Games, but I wanted to see hockey more than anything."
Wendy Morrell, 52, is a retired teacher from Dorset. She wanted to compete at an Olympics but sustained a brain injury in an archery competition in 1989. She has tickets for diving and gymnastics.
"It was my dream to take part, but when that didn't happen, I focused on advocacy work and helping other wheelchair users. It will be really nice to go and complete the chain by going to the Olympics with my new dog, Udo."
Clare Steel, 32, a charity worker from Slough, got two tickets for Olympic rowing at Dorney Lake. She is also due to marry later this year in the boathouse in the same spot.
"We decided to get married at Dorney Lake before we knew the Games were taking place there," she said. "As soon as we heard the Olympics were being held there, we knew we had to get tickets – we thought it would have some special significance."Reuse content