Lisa Markwell: Why buying tickets is
the craziest Olympic sport of all

So I needn't have panicked and bought first-round,

back-row seats for the table tennis


Just 64 days to go. Sixty-four days till the Olympic Games are over, as the already-old joke goes. You can see that fatigue has set in among Londoners, in their weary tread on the Underground staircase (while the escalator undergoes "essential maintenance for the Games"). Also, there appears to be competitive holiday booking – who can get away farther, for longer, during the London 2012 fortnight. (The grumpiness does not extend to the Paralympics.)

No doubt for many, the early-onset ennui will be replaced with a moderate level of enthusiasm once the Games begin, when it will be permissible to sit in front of the telly all day drinking on-offer supermarket beer and perving over Tom Daley and Victoria Pendleton. And we will, won't we, be sitting on the sofa? Most of us aren't going to any events BECAUSE WE DIDN'T GET TICKETS.

But I must wipe away the spittle-flecked fury I've been cultivating for one moment, the fury I felt when once, twice, and almost three times I failed to purchase tickets for London 2012. It turns out that I needn't have panicked and bought crappy back-row first-round rubbish seats for the table tennis. Today, another slew of 43,000 tickets go on sale in a last-ever, must-have, honest-guv, you-can-trust-us development.

And unlike all the other convoluted systems designed to make us carve our own eyeballs out with our Visa cards (because only Visa cards are accepted), this will be a straightforward first-come, first-served sale. There's just the one problem: pretty much anyone with a passing interest in the Olympics has bought their tickets and doesn't have any money left for more. Or they've spent their money on a darling little gîte in France instead. Or on a hundred M&S chocolate salted caramel éclairs (trust me, they're worth it). The opening and closing ceremony and six sports available range in price from £20 to £995, but most are – imagine my surprise – at the upper end of that scale.

The real shock news is that the beach volleyball hasn't sold out, despite every man I meet rubbing his thighs and huh-huhing whenever it's mentioned. Perhaps they took my advice and sated their desire to see scantily clad girls by purchasing a jazz mag.

The Sports Minister, Hugh Robertson, admitted yesterday that he expects to "get some stick" when the truth about who was allocated what, ticket-wise, is made public after the Games. Relax, Hugh baby. It sounds like there will be quite a few more last-chance opportunities for tickets, if we want them, before 27 July. Anyone with cash to burn, a strong pair of binoculars and an ardent desire to see Fiji play football has nothing to complain about.

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