Sports Listings: Plan ahead

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The Independent Online
The proximity of Spain and the drawing power of the Olympic Games still has plenty to offer the late traveller. The organisers of the Games in Barcelona have reported they have sold 67 per cent of the four million tickets, though hockey, baseball and football are undersold. Football, in particular, has sold less than 10 per cent though that will change as the Games approach.

Tickets for the opening and closing ceremonies and for all events in swimming, rhythmic gymnastics, judo and fencing have already sold out. Seats for the final stages of 12 other sports, including athletics, the equestrian events, basketball, boxing, cycling, tennis and table tennis, have already sold out. However, there are plenty of tickets for the preliminary and intermediate rounds.

Prices start at 750Ptas (pounds 4.30) for the early equestrian events and hockey matches and 1,200Ptas (pounds 6.80) for preliminary rounds of the athletics rising for the intermediate rounds to 1,500Ptas (pounds 8.50) for swimming and 3,000Ptas (pounds 17) for tennis. From Monday, the Banesto Bank will cease selling tickets and thereafter seats can be bought from the venues.

Accommodation such as three to five-star hotels in Barcelona are fully booked, but it is possible to find one and two-star hotels in the city with some research. Otherwise, hotels can be sought within a 50-kilometre radius of Barcelona on the Catalonian coast in, for example, Lloret de Mar and Salou. Information can be obtained from the City Tourist office at the airport and at the main railway station, as well as the main Tourist Information Office in the Baseo de Gracia.

The number of trains into Barcelona will double for the duration of the Games, and even this service will improve if demand increases.

In Barcelona, the City Council has been working for the last two and a half years on the transport problem. The underground, which is the quickest way around the city, and bus systems from the city centre at, for example, the Plaza de Catalunya will service the four main Olympic sites in Barcelona - the Olympic Stadium at Montjuic, Diagonal, Vall d'Hebron and Parc de Mar. Bus shuttles will ferry visitors to the remoter venues, like the hockey at Terrassa, some 39 kilometres from Barcelona.

For the tourist who likes to drive, it is unadvisable to bring a car into Barcelona. To encourage drivers to abandon their cars, the City Council has built several large car parks on the outskirts, enabling drivers to 'park and ride'. There are such parking areas at Montgat, Montmelo, Blanes and Cornella.

Olympic Games, Barcelona, 25 July to 9 August.

Spanish National Tourist Office, 57 St James's Street, London SW1 (Tel: 071-499 0901).

Barcelona Tourist Information Centre, Baseo de Gracia 35 (Tel: 010 343 215 4477).