Countdown to the Olympics
When people learn we are going to the Olympics, experienced travelers look startled and ask, “Where are you going to stay?” This has made me a little uneasy about London hotels.
The others always ask, “Do you have tickets yet?” Yes, we do have tickets. Those who don’t might be like the woman we read about recently who is flying to London with no tickets but is willing to pay $10,000 for a ticket to the opening ceremonies.
Here’s how we got a hotel and tickets:
We reserved a Cartan Tours travel package for the London Olympics as soon as we got back from Beijing. This was a little earlier than absolutely essential.
Our quest for tickets began in March 2011.
3-10-11 Chuck Rist from Tri-State Travel emailed us that ticket requests would begin in five days. (A good travel agent is essential unless you know all are really organized and can remember all the deadlines for the next two years.)
3-17-11 Co-Sport, the authorized ticket seller for the United States, emails all past ticket purchasers to invite us to participate in the upcoming historic occasion.
Co-Sport will receive ticket requests between March 15 and April 22, 2011. Allocations will be made by lottery.
(This is good news. In 2008, tickets were allocated on a first come, first served basis. Their web site crashed, my requests were timed-out, my password failed, their help-line was busy. I hyperventilated. After 8 hours on-line, I got through. We requested 12 tickets and got 7.)
4-21-11 Our dining room table could be the center of the situation room at the White House with tables of events and times, matrices, flow charts, color codes for times of events and stars marking our first choice of events. It’s important not to have too many events on one day and to have enough time to get from one venue to another.
Our travel package puts us in London from 8-1 to 8-7 and includes one day of touring. The middle of the Games is a great time to go; there will be some finals and the greatest variety of sports. If you try to go for the opening ceremonies, you may not get a ticket and the events will be mostly preliminary rounds. Closing ceremony tickets are equally hard to get and lots of sports will have ended.
We choose 9 events that are perfectly timed: Athletics (track and field to Americans); Badminton; Boxing; Diving; Gymnastics- Artistic; Field Hockey; Swimming; Volleyball and Wrestling.
4-26-11 Co-Sport email: Congratulations, you have successfully requested tickets.
6-6-11 Co-Sport email: Dear Valued Customer, Congratulations! We are pleased to inform you that you have been successful in obtaining tickets. Please confirm your billing and credit information.
We obtained tickets for Boxing, Field Hockey and Volleyball.
6-7-11 We call Chuck Rist to say we are not going if we can’t get more tickets. He works with Cartan Tours to get more tickets.
6-13-11 Cartan Tours email: We have tickets for Athletics, Gymnastics and Swimming.
6-21-11 Co-Sport email: Phase 2 Ticket sales will be conducted on a first come first served basis on June 24.
6-24-11 The Co-Sport website actually works. We get tickets for Badminton and Wrestling.
We feel pretty fortunate. There were about 59,000 tickets allocated for the United States. Co-Sport had requests for over 199, 000 tickets.
Getting Opening Ceremony tickets was not quite as hard as winning the lottery, but only 1 out of 1,000 got tickets.
Swimming and Gymnastics were the hardest tickets to get – about 5% of requests were confirmed.
The other hardest to get tickets : Athletics ( Track and Field)- 20% of requests filled; Tennis- 14% of requests filled, and Football ( Soccer to Americans) 26% of request filled.
It wasn’t always this way. In 2004, Americans worried about terrorism stayed home. We decided to go to the Archery finals on the spur of the moment and walked up to the ticket office and got tickets an hour before the event.
Apparently cost was no deterrent. Ticket prices were pretty shocking especially after Beijing when the Chinese kept prices low so that Asians could attend. Opening Ceremony tickets were in the $3000 range. Bad seats for Athletics were over $250 and above $450 for A level tickets. Swimming and Gymnastics tickets started at around $200. Field Hockey was the bargain in our basket at $78 a ticket with others in the $100 - $150 range.