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How London 2012 Recovered From A Ticketing Fiasco

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The Summer Olympics of 2012 gave London a chance to show the world how wonderful it really is. The venues were incredible, from the spectacular magnificence of the Olympic Stadium itself to the quirky and iconic locations such as Greenwich Park and Lord’s Cricket Ground. And of course the people who attended the Games were enthusiastic, knowledgeable and extremely supportive.

During the first day or two, however, there was criticism from a number of quarters about the fact that at some venues there were several empty seats to be seen. During the early rounds of the tennis competition at Wimbledon, for example, there were clearly visible expanses of seating with nobody sitting there. Perhaps understandably, many people in the UK, and various sections of the media, were questioning how this could have happened.

Tickets had gone on sale at various times during the months leading up to the start of the Olympics, and organisers were delighted to note just how quickly they had sold out. Even for sports that had no particular traditional interest for Britons sold well; the beach volleyball, for example, was a sell-out, perhaps partly because the venue, a temporary arena in Horse Guards Parade in the very heart of Central London, was such an interesting choice.

Gaps to be filled
However, once the Games got under way it was clear there were gaps in the seating that weren’t going to be filled by spectators. In the early stages of ticket sales, Olympic authorities has said there were around 22 million applicants for a total of six million seats, so it’s not surprising that so many people were upset by the sight of empty areas when they had tried so hard to purchase tickets earlier in the year.

The problem, according to the organisers at least, was that some corporate ticket-holders, as well as a number of competition winners, had simply not turned up. Fast action was needed to stave off further criticism, so further ticket sales were announced at regular intervals, usually several times a day, for the rest of the Games. And when there were still a few gaps to be seen, free admission was given to soldiers who were helping with security at some of the venues.

Thanks to the convenience of the Internet and the speedy communication afforded by social media networks, word soon spread about ticket availability. And although there were still plenty of disappointed sports fans who couldn’t get tickets, many thousands more were able to buy them, and to enjoy the wonderful Olympic spirit that was prevalent throughout London and beyond.

David Showell is a UK-based sports fan who attended both soccer and beach volleyball events during the 2012 Olympics. When he’s not watching sporting action, he’s working for a company that compares car rentals prices.

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