London 2012 tickets are now on sale – see you at the asymmetric bars
Tickets for the London 2012 Olympic Games are on sale from today, but don’t all pile in like steeplechasers at a water jump. It’s a marathon, not a 100 metre drug-assisted sprint. The window in which to try and buy some of the 6.6 million tickets is open for a full six weeks, and as part of what event chairman Sebastian Coe calls the “daddy of all ticketing strategies”, ballots will be held for all oversubscribed events.
So if you are interested in elbowing your way to one of the cheap seats in the claustrophobia capital of the world, you’ve got until April 26th to apply via London2012.com - by which time I’ll hopefully have figured out what the Modern Pentathlon is all about.
Indeed, in a bid to contain my excitement about the fact that the Olympics is taking place on Ireland’s doorstep in 499 days, I’ve been trying to think about the bad and/or mildly annoying things about the whole sporting shindig.
There’s the dispiritingly valid description (by Peter Hitchens) of a typical Olympics as a “festival of cheating”. There’s the tension – given the kind of investment-protection madness that went down at the South African World Cup – that you might be arrested for smuggling the wrong brand of what I will reluctantly call cola into the Olympic Stadium. There’s the deep-seated suspicion that Britain’s Beth Tweddle is the only female gymnast with breasts.
What else? Well, there’s the constant comparison of various nations’ medal tallies, which somehow manages to miss the human drama of individual sporting achievement, burying it instead in a mindless jingoistic blather. There’s BBC Sport’s insistence on always treating viewers to Michael Johnson’s real-time reaction to a race, thus killing his enthusiasm of all spontaneity.
There’s the not knowing which is worse: the wearisome nudge-nudge-wink-wink commentary on the beach volleyball or the endless sneering about it being an Olympic sport at all. There’s the sinking feeling, and I accept I might be alone in this, that all that lycra, flag-waving and earnestness combines to make a lot of otherwise amazingly fit people come across as bizarrely unsexy – with the exception of the rowers, that is, 80 per cent of whom resemble the posh twins in The Social Network.
Yet, despite, or perhaps because, of these Olympic quirks, I’m already planning on spending my 2012 annual leave in London to coincide with this gold medal frenzy, which I plan to sleep off on the couch of anyone living in the south-east of England who I’ve so much as shaken hands with in the last decade – yes, that means you, acquaintance scanning this post via Twitter.
Ticket prices soar as high as £2,012 – do you see what they’ve done there? – which is approximately £1,950 out of my price range, but happily there are also plenty of £20 tickets for early round events in sports no one is much interested in, like water polo or, er, football. I reckon the BMX cycling could be a fun pick, while the non-sporty person’s sporting hobby of choice, badminton, is surely worth a trip to Wembley Arena. Some people say that if the winners have to be decided by judges, it’s not really a sport, but such prejudice is not going to stop me from marvelling at the diving.
In all, you can enter the race for tickets for up to 20 events, choosing from 650 sessions across 26 sports and 17 days. Only apply for what you can afford, because a successful bid for tickets means you have to pay for them. Applicants will find out whether or not they have secured their passports to plastic-seated viewing glory by June 24th, by which time Olympic sponsor Visa, the only card you can use, will have already debited the cost of the tickets.
If I don’t make it to the Aquatics Centre for the synchronised swimming, it’s safe to say I’ll be there in spirit.