The 2012 ticket race: Chariots of ire
If my estimates are correct, and you’re a UK applicant for London 2012 tickets, you should have one last lingering check on your debit/credit card now. If you’ve seen a bite, congratulations, if not then I fear you need to prepare for the worst.
After a tease-fest of delayed deadlines and over eager forecasting the ticket processing juggernaut got to work on Wednesday of this week, and while its handlers will continue to hold to the June 10 closing date, all the intelligence suggests those who have been awarded tickets now know about it.
The immediate fall-out has been predictable, with an overriding sense of disappointment – either at missing out entirely or not getting enough tickets from a larger application. But before the great British public sharpen their arrows for Lord Coe, they should have a good look around at each other. Many of the events expected to be over-subscribed, were (there are a couple of exceptions; LOCOG insiders had expected the likes of Beach Volleyball and Basketball to do better among others) with unprecedented demand for the Ceremonies and the Athletics session which features the 100m final. You don’t have to be a stats genius to realise that a million applications for approximately 20000 tickets aren’t going to go – as was reported to be the case for said Athletics session.
In the end, some folk have been a little churlish in their complaints and the feedback from all successful applicants suggest that ballots were fair and genuinely rotational, and that far from the rich getting all the tickets smaller applications did very well too. The overarching average for successful applicants of tickets won from their original application was around 15-20%. Some did push as high as 60-80%, and there were reports of 100% successes.
Some criticisms are fair (the most prevalent being the one centred around preferential ticket access for residents of Newham, the Olympic borough) but many who have rounded on the system used for London 2012 haven’t suggested an alternative that would be better. It certainly looks like the system tried to award tickets to as many people as possible so everyone had something – this should be applauded. Indulging in a first-come, first-served system would have been a technical nightmare and have discriminated against the many thousands who don’t have online access or preferred to apply via the postal system.
A loyalty buying scheme (where applicants have to commit to buy a certain number of tickets in order to get access higher profile events - similar to that adopted for Euro ’96 and other international tournaments) would have favoured wealthier applicants able to commit more cash upfront.
My only suggestion, to enhance the system that was used, would have been to make applicants state their preference (i.e. ‘1’ means this is the event you most want tickets for, ‘5’ is the event you’re least bothered about in the context of your application). I don’t think it would have been technically unfeasible and would have gone further to marry real demands.
A lot of US applicants using CoSport learnt of their fate with applications today, and in the process perhaps rubbed some of the UK applicants up the wrong way. It is worth bearing in mind that given the allocations involved, it would have been a lot easier to provide this level of scientific reporting to applicants than what has been made available to those in the UK.
Several outlets including The Guardian and London’s own Evening Standard report that anywhere between 250,000 to 900,000 applicants face getting no tickets from the first round of applications. While one can feel complete sympathy for them, over a million against a reported 1.8 million of total applicants is not bad going on the part of LOCOG. There will definitely be tickets left-over coupled with many planned windows of access ahead.
For those successful, all routes now lead to receiving official confirmations by June 24; right now there is geek-like permutation work at play. The appetite for the London games shows no sign of abating – and once realism sets in among many of the cynics, this period will be judged as the the moment the countdown to the XXX Olympiad really began.