2012: olympic excitement

Today my Europa League ticket arrived. I wasn’t expecting this – assumed they’d be loaded onto S/T as usual – but the early start must have some impact on how these things are implemented.  How exciting anyway, the new season underway and I’ll be there.

I’ll also be at the Olympics, but only just.  We, like many people, went in for the initial ballot.  Wary of over-committing ourselves (they said to make sure you had funds available for tickets you applied for) we registerd for £120 worth of tickets, something we could afford for a special occasion like this.

Later it turns out that to actually get to see something you want to see you probably had to apply for something between £1,000 and £3,000 worth of tickets (this is what the lucky few who I’ve met seem to have put up). People seem to be missing this in the “is it fair?” debates.  Yes, Sebastian Coe, of course not everyone can expect to see the events – the sums don’t add up – but it just so happens that the most likely to see the games are those who had £3,000+ available in case they won all their tickets.  It’s an Olympic games for the wealthy.

So Lord (!) Coe goes on tv and explains how fair it all is under the circumstances and explains how they’re doing all they can to give people a ‘second chance’.  Well we got up at 6 this morning and after clicking through the Judo and the Handball and the Synchronised Swimming decided that it wasn’t for us.  Only some events are child friendly (e.g. you don’t have to pay full price for a one year old to go (!)) and those were all sold out anyway, even for sports we weren’t remotely interested in (is that our own fault then? Being so choosy? Maybe, it’s a tricky issue. Ultimately we didn’t want to watch the walking or the women’s weightlifting; maybe this invalidates my whole rant, I don’t know).

So….. my sister proposed that we might join her and her boyfriend at the women’s football semi-final at Wembley. Stanley can go for £1 (it’d be £30 for the final) and at least it means we’ll have seen some Olympics.  We’ll go with Sarah and Dave, semi-finals are often more exciting than finals anyway, and the standard should be pretty good.  I’m sure I can get Stan a tacky Olympic sun-visor or something.

I’m aware that there’s a sense of entitlement to what I’m writing. In years gone by people wouldn’t think twice about not being able to go to the games. People would accept that tickets are scarce and not everyone can get them and well, good luck to those who manage.  But there’s something about the way it’s been sold to us, particularly in London:  yes, we’ve wasted billions on two weeks of sport, but at least you can enjoy it when it’s here.  They Olympics! In London! Yay us.   And then the time comes and actually you can’t go after all but Sebastian Coe’s done his best and we’re all very sorry but it was a ballot after all and ballots are fair aren’t they?  No, not if some can have far more entries than others, they’re not.  (And I didn’t get upset when for a long time I couldn’t get Germany 2006 World Cup tickets because the system seemed perfectly fair: tickets were pricey, but those who were well prepared and then prepared to persevere were rewarded with tickets (as were we eventually: Iran v Angola and Ukraine v Saudi Arabia!  But we were there and we had fun).)

To put the tin lid on it, I read tonight that Bradley Wiggins is struggling for tickets:

Wiggins also directed his ire at the “shambles” of an Olympic ticketing process during which he has been luckless. “It’s a shame really, isn’t it? Coming from London and growing up in London you’d always sort of imagine that your family would be able to watch you in the velodrome, win a gold medal. Obviously that’s not to be at the moment.

“So it is a shame and I’m now looking at maybe doing the individual road time trial just so they can poke their heads over the barriers and watch, because that’s free of course.

“We’re just the athletes. I think we’re low down the list in the whole thing. I think the whole corporate thing is probably obviously what pays for the Olympics and I think that’s where most of it has gone.”

It’s been a complete fuck up. We’ll enjoy the women’s football and will watch what we can on TV, but until the feelgood factor hits us (and you can be sure that the government and every commercial entity in the British Isles will be feeding us happy vibes by whatever means possible, fair or foul) I’m going to remain my usual grumpy self.

I was going to go the full Daily Mail and suggest that it sums up the country today, but instead let’s take this as an opportunity to praise football.  Football gets a lot of stick – rightly – but generally is well organised and fan-orientated. Seriously, I know people get upset about stewarding and pricing and Monday night fixtures, but these issues seem trifling compared to the Olympic fiasco.  I can’t wait for the season to start.  The Premier League is far from Olympian in its values and it is a complete shower on so many levels, but at least it is inclusive and does bring a lot of joy to those of us it is openly ripping off.

8 thoughts on “2012: olympic excitement

  1. Out of the five events we bid for, we actually got two – football at Old Trafford and Hockey. We missed out on tennis, handball and gymnastics. Not sure what my point is, as I agree the systems was completely doolally, but some smaller people have done alright.
    Live sports’ sickeningly expensive in this country anyway.

  2. We live about 1km from the olympic site in Stratford. My daughter trains 7 nihgts a week at three clubs – fencing, gym and trampoline. She is the olympic ambassador for her school. She was featured in a a poster for the olympics. She is often featured in the local newspaper The Newham Recorder as a medal winner. She has been saving all her birthday and christmas money for tickets for see her role models. You can guess what is coming – we
    stashed away £2000 for tickets, and got no tickets/none/zero/ziltch.
    We had a whole morning of tears – hers not mine.
    We wrote to our local paper, our MP and his Lordship Coe – no replies.
    What a disgrace! Tickets should have been allocated through the clubs to those who actually participate in these sports.
    Tickets should have been guaranteed to the working class in Newham, Waltham Forest and Tower Hamlets – who could not afford to keep their bank accounts topped up chancing that they may get lucky in the lottery.
    In 2004, the govt issued a paper “Game Plan’ which stated that elite sports events do nothing to boost participation – too right; my daughters fencing, gym and trampoline clubs have all had financing cut.
    In the summer when the IOC visited Stratford we could not move for organised street sport, the crime rate fell and we were all very happy – that was a long time ago.

  3. Couldn’t agree more. I wanted to see some athletics (which is what the Olympics is really about) and some rowing (which is the sport my eldest competes in the most). Would have paid more than we can really afford but despite getting up with plenty of time last Friday was unable to complete the transaction.

    Now I feel like the Olympics will be happening very close to our front door and we’ll have no involvement at all.

    This wouldn’t have happed if Steve Ovett had been in charge!

  4. Sorry you missed out on the ballot. We were in the same position as you – wanting tickets for events that were child-friendly. In the end we put in for two things only – a bit of rowing and the Grenwich Park bit of the modern pentathlon. Surprisingly, we got lucky on the latter. Talking to people a work, it’s clear that we’ve been surprisingly lucky.

  5. I remain amazed that the people who ‘won’ in the ballot had the money taken from the account a whole month before they found out what they got. It was unbelievably shocking customer service.

    The whole Olympics thing has been a bit of a joke – for example the whole thing surrounding the official lanes on roads for Olympic officials. If a cyclist goes in said lane and is caught, it is a £130 on the spot fine. What a joke.

    I went to Wimbledon on Friday and was reminded (by the promotional brochure, it has to be said) that it was one of the few events in the world where you can turn up on the day and get tickets. I turned up a 6am and qued before getting tickets to court 2. Why could the Olympics not do the same?

  6. Rich – the fact that you turn your nose up at the remaining events (as you freely admit) pretty much invalidates the whole rant

    With huge demand for certain events and way more applicants than tickets a ballot was the only answer and a lot of people were going to miss out

    Also – the argumemt around footy tickets makes no sense – for world cup tickets you have to commit without even knowing what you are buying and even then most miss out with huge swathes going to corporate & corruption

    Seems everyone has a gripe about the Olympics – non londoners resent paying for it; londoners resent the disruption and paying more for it; non ballot winners resent not having tickets; ballot winners resent paying too much – the list is almost endless..

    Maybe the Aussies are right after all that if whinging was an Olympic sport then our medal haul would improve…

    1. true, but that “lot of people” seem to be the people who didn’t have £2000 to risk. That’s the gripe. If we hadn’t had the whole thing rammed down our throats for the last x years it might be different.

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