Londoners May Be Fighting For Olympic Tickets

March 4, 2010

The Olympics is coming and I may not get a ticket. Paying for the hosting of the biggest show on Earth and being a Londoner is clearly not enough. According to a report on the BBC website, European law dictates that favouring the host country is not allowed because it’s discriminatory, therefore, everyone will have an equal chance of buying tickets. So I’ll be trying to get a ticket for an event with 200 million other Europeans. But it gets better. Before I get ready to rumble with the Germans, French and Italians, the Olympic family will probably get first dibs, as is the custom for Olympic events. This ‘family’ include the usual suspects: sponsors, officials, media, athletes and other guests. Unless I’m very, very lucky, it looks like I’ll be watching it on the TV either at home, or on a large screen in a park, taking my chances on our unpredictable Weather.

The price of a ticket is as yet, unknown, but I’ve heard rumblings about ‘affordability.’ Personally, I think the people of East London should get free tickets as compensation for the inconvenience and uprooting that has occurred in the preparation of this event. But I’d be dead if I held my breath for that one. Instead, I have to hope that the tickets really will be affordable. It would be a big slap in the face if the people who are living in the centre of the action can’t afford to see a live Olympic event. After all, we may not get this opportunity for another 50 years.

The winter Olympics in Vancouver has just ended. I saw as much of it as I could, given the time difference and I saw highlights of the closing ceremony, which included William Shatner of all people. I really enjoyed it and liked Canada even more, though I’ve not yet managed to pay a visit. I would love to know how the ordinary people experienced it. So if there are any Canadian readers out there, tell me about it. Maybe it’ll help me be less cynical about it. Or maybe not.



  1. As a Canadian, I watched the Vancouver Olympics just like the rest of the world. On TV. And while the closing ceremonies were considered fabulous by the world, as an average Canadian I found them embarrassing. So embarrassing in fact, that I clicked back and forth between it and other shows, watching the ceremonies during the commercials of other networks. Seeing Michel Buble come out in a Mountie’s uniform was a sacriledge in my eyes, no wonder our national police force is such a farce, an unrespectable entity. And don’t even get me started on the giant blow-up beavers!
    As a Canadian, I didn’t have any hope of seeing the Olympics live. The cheap seats at the Men’s Gold Medal Hockey game (which is the be-all and the end-all for Canadians) ran for $350, tickets for the opening ceremony ran as high as $1100, not including my flight out there, my hotel stay and living expenses. Even if I were to purchase tickets for lower rate events, it would still have cost me a small fortune. I would have needed to purchase tickets for several events to make the visit worthwhile. I have a brother who lives a stone’s throw from Vancouver, who didn’t even come close to seeing a single event. It is true that the Olympic “family” gets all the goods, my suggestion for you would be to save your pennies, and buy your tickets early. I would class *some* tickets as affordable to the residents in Vancouver, but like I said above, to lower rated events.
    With all that being said, there is a great sense of pride in having your country host the Olympics, especially when it takes Gold in the Olympic’s biggest billed event!

    • Thanks for being my Canadian correspondent, shesboxingclever. I had a feeling the experiences of the host nation populace would be different from those either watching on TV, or at the event itself. I can understand your embarrassment (we’ll gloss over Michael Bublé). I know that if they had giant inflatables in our ceremony, Beefeaters for instance, I’d be watching through my fingers. As it is, I fear we’ll have every hackneyed London stereotype on display. Remember our handover act at Beijing two years ago? If you don’t, try and find it on YouTube. It involved a red bus, people wearing bowler hats as old school city types and people who’ve stumbled in from an Austin Powers film. Given that we haven’t seen people out on the streets looking like that since 1969, unless it’s a deliberate fashion statement, it’s not good. Most of these opening and closing ceremonies have strange set piece with animals and Busby Berkley dance sequences. I guess that’s the nature of the beast.

      I think we can already count ourselves out of the opening and closing ceremonies, because of the ticket prices as you said. $350 for the men’s hockey game? Wow. I bet the touts were tripling the price of that one (how do they get the tickets, by the way?). I’m sure that in the end, the pride will wash away all gripes and grumbles when the event finally comes upon us. It certainly seemed to do it for Canada, though I’m sure you already had pride in your country. If we manage to get a bumper crop of Gold medals in our own country, that’ll be fabulous.

    • This Canadian post is unfortunate and I’m glad it is more representative of a misinformed cynic than the truth.
      1) Closing – though I didn’t love all of it, I think you missed the fact that it was meant to be a fun poke at all of the stereotypes that people about Canadians…not meant to be a serious reflection.
      2)You’re right on the ticket prices for those two events however the majority of tickets were lie $20 or $30…affordable to say the least. As for not being able to get a ticket…clearly you (or your brother) didn’t try. Ya it was hard in the early phases but there were tons available in the last go and so long as you didn’t have your heart set on gold medal hockey you could have gone to any number of things.
      3) As for your comment about the lower price tickets being to lower rated events…again, misinformed. My $50 ticket to see Team Canada play Norway was pretty cheap in my mind. My $65 ticket to curling was great and my $30 ticket to bobsleigh was an outright steal. If your brother lives ‘a stones throw away’ then perhaps you could have stayed with him?
      4) As for the Olympic family getting all of the tickets…wrong again. I don’t know how many times I read about how the public got 70 or 75% of all tickets, Olympic family only 35% (for the record, at the beginning I too had assumed they got most…assumed until I read into it).

      I guess my point is that you could have had tickets and you could have had more of an Olympic experience but you chose not to so please at least be accurate when sharing information with our friends across the pond.

      To the writer…the Olympics are not perfect by any stretch. They are a massive event and are bound to be irritating in some ways but overall I found it an amazing experience. Don’t waste too much energy complaining…try to find ways to enjoy it, even if it’s just wandering the festive streets or taking in the arts elements.

      • Hello Olympicfan. Thank you so much for taking the time to read this entry and putting the other side of the argument. This blog should be robust enough to take all comments (unnecessary profanities and pure nastiness, being the exception) and I’m glad you felt moved to do so.

        I would like to point out two things. Firstly, in my original post I stated that I enjoyed the closing ceremony of the games. I probably didn’t it make clear that I understood the giant Mounties, hockey players and beavers were a gentle ribbing of the stereotypes and that’s what made me like the Canadians even more. They really know themselves, eh? 😉 What I also understand is as a citizen of the host nation, you may feel embarrassed by shows like this. Like I said, inflatable Beefeaters as a UK equivalent, if they ever did that would have me shrinking like a salted snail, probably because I don’t think there would be any irony in it. Still, it’s horses for courses, isn’t it?

        Secondly, as a Londoner, I’m Living in a city that is replete with arts elements and festivities occur in one form or another almost every week, so I have much to enjoy on a regular basis. My complaining, as you see it, is voicing fears that London in general, but East London in particular, my neck of the woods, will receive minimal benefits from this event at best. I want us to have the best and we deserve the best. I did also say at the end of my response to the comments made by shesboxingclever that once this event gets under way, the pride in our country, especially when we win Gold medals, will be much bigger than the complaints. As an Olympic fan, I’m sure you’ll be watching us in 2012. I look forward to hearing from you again.

      • To Olympicfan, I appreciate your reponse to my comments, however, I do not consider myself a misinformed cynic as I enjoyed the Olympics as a viewer and as a Canadian, and my information regarding ticket fees and such came from this site here http://www.vancouver2010.com/olympic-tickets/ to insure it’s accuracy in what I was posting.
        Your comments on the closing ceremonies are exactly what provoked my disdain. I would much rather have seen an event promoting the strengths and abilities of Canada as a whole, rather then viewing a parody of stereotypes. I did not miss the fact that it was an attempt to “poke fun”, in essence it was the poking fun that I did not appreciate. There is more to Canada, and more to Canadians then what was portrayed in the ceremonies, and it would have done a wealth of good had the committee focused beyond the stereotypes.
        At no point did I say I was unable to obtain a ticket. In truth, I never once tried. I live on the other side of the country and it would have meant a small fortune and an extended holiday to attend the Olympics in a manner that would have made it all worthwhile. It’s not something I would have done as an individual, it would have been selfish of me not to include my family, and being this far away, it just wasn’t feasible. Actually being there was not even a consideration due to the distance and cost involved. How nice for you that you were able to attend!
        My comments regarding lower rated events I feel you’ve misunderstood. I was simply stating that the fees went up with each round of medal contending, the cheaper only being available for events without great emphasis on standings, again, I refer you to http://www.vancouver2010.com/olympic-tickets/ which clearly states what I was implying.
        The author asked for an opinion of a Canadian viewer of the Olympics, and my post, as a Canadian viewer of the Olympics, was completely and utterly accurate. It holds no less weight then your’s. As I’ve said above, I appreciate your response, and see it as valid, however your’s is also not the only experience by which to become informed as a future “participant”.

        • Great points from both of you. Thanks very much. As someone who hopes to make the trip to Canada sometime before death, I like to think I have enough intelligence to go beyond the stereotype and take the people as they are, for good or for ill. However, I know there’s the lazy part of my brain that will expect to see at least one, whether it’s a Mountie, Beaver, Moose or hockey puck. For example, lazy brain was hoping for (and found, with great delight) an angry New York cabbie when I was in that part of the states a few years ago, as described briefly in my angry London post.

          I know I would despair if the inflatable Beefeater was displayed, as like you, shesboxingclever, I know there’s a whole lot more to London and indeed the UK than Buckingham Palace and tea. But if I believe I can move beyond stereotypes when visiting a country, there’s no reason to believe the visitors to our Olympics would not also be able to do this.

  2. Checking out this blog for the first time and I think its awesome!! Keep up the good work, you should check out my blog as well.

    – Josh

  3. Well, if you think of it that way, the whole world is fighting for those tickets! Who doesn’t want to see the Olympics?! But because not may people have the ability to travel and watch the games, people in London should have a slight advantage… No?

    • Yes, possibly. I guess because I’m greedy I’d like an even bigger head start as a Londoner 🙂 Thanks for your contribution, Suyeonb13. Come back and have a look whenever you’re at a loose end. You’d be very welcome.

  4. I just found this post and had no previous knowledge that sheisboxingclever was also a Canadian and a British Columbian like me. I have nothing to add to her comments because we are so obviously likeminded on the issues raised and she has put forth the same information and same POV that I have.

    “There is more to Canada, and more to Canadians then what was portrayed in the ceremonies, and it would have done a wealth of good had the committee focused beyond the stereotypes.”


  5. Pienbiscuits- great points you’ve made!
    I live just near Sydney and S-T-Ruggled to get tix for the 2000 Olympics!
    Ended up paying far more than I’d ever like to admit, however the atmosphere really was amazing.

    Good luck with the ticket battle!

    • Thanks for that dreamlivedream. I’m bench-pressing 300 in preparation as we speak 😉

  6. As a Vancouverite, I watched a city divided. Only 52% of the people voted in the Olympics eight or so years ago. As the date rapidly approached, discussions became heated and I witnessed friendships fall apart. I sat, firmly planted on the fence. Seeing both sides to the story. It was frustrating for both sides. Our city has a rich history of protesters and they certainly took to the streets. What saddened me was the name-calling and both sides telling the other side to shut up. Yes, it was true; there was nothing anyone could do about it. It was done. Sealed and about to be delivered. For those not living in Vancouver, perhaps it wasn’t as evident how divided the city was over the Olympics.

    Residents took offence from the IOC and VANOC “suggesting” we stay at home, work from home, take our vacation time, etc. Not all of us had the ability to do that and it was a reminder that in some regards, the games are a party for those who can afford it.
    The constant buzz of helicopters and security officials on most downtown corners did lend a certain police state mentality to the event. In my opinion, I think security went overboard. Nevertheless, it certainly didn’t mute the spirit of the games.
    The world was on our doorstep and the biggest party our city had ever seen was about to commence. And what a party it was. A drunken party at best, but a damn good one.

    For those who could afford it.

    Revellers took to the streets, and in my opinion that was the place to be. The place to fully experience the Olympics. Yes, our government sunk $6 billion worth of taxpayer money and cut programs all over the board to pay for this party for the rich. Because that’s really what it was. Commoners, like myself, could never hope to afford a ticket to an event, nor could we spend hours in lines to get into the houses, that were just restaurants/pubs serving $9 beers in plastic cups. And that’s why the streets became the best place to feel the spirit. Why? Because it was free.

    Yes, there were plenty of free events, if you were willing to stand in line for upwards of eight hours. And yes, in the beginning, the cost of tickets was fairly reasonable, but again, reasonable for those who could afford to drop $300 on a ticket. God forbid you tried to get a ticket from a scalper, with tickets going for as much as $10,000 on street corners.

    Does it sound like I’m complaining? Perhaps. But I also enjoyed myself. Going into the games, I had major reservations. Our arts have been cut, education has been cut and so has health care. Is that the price we pay to play host city? I guess so.

    One of the major perks of hosting the games was the Cultural Olympiad and an insurgence in citizen journalism and social media. Also, our aim to be the greenest Olympics yet. The streets were full of amazing art, and despite most residents reservations about the financial legacy the games will leave behind, I think we stepped up to the plate to show the world our spirit.

    It’s over and done now. A once in a lifetime opportunity and I got to witness it. The upside is we got some great city infrastructure out of it, and a chance to show the world how beautiful Vancouver is.
    Shortly the Paralympics begin. But here’s some food for thought…tickets for those games run between $15 and $30.

    For you Londoners out there, you have a right to feel cynical. You have a right to feel concern. I can appreciate that. Believe me. What I learned here in Vancouver was that we were all powerless to stop the giant vacuum that travels from city to city every four years, sucking up money. Our protests and near riots proved that. So, if you can, enjoy the party. Stand your ground on your opinions. Be prepared to be told to “shut up and just enjoy it”. Though if you can…take to the streets and do try to enjoy it. You might be surprised by the spirit and connections you’ll make with strangers from all over the world.
    Oh, and be careful of pickpockets. The pros will come. Trust me.

    Good luck!

    • Cici! How nice to hear from you.

      This post has generated some cracking comments. It’s good to hear yet another experience from a Canadian. Don’t worry about the pickpockets. All big cities have them and we have a pretty tasty set of our own. I suppose for those who’ll be coming from overseas it’ll be a working holiday for them. They’d better be prepared to work for their money, though. The people of East London won’t take that kind of nonsense lying down!

      By the way, I hope you won’t mind me placing spaces between your paragraphs. This comment is worth reading and I wanted to make it easier for people to do so.

  7. PS – @pienbiscuits, I know that was a lot of words to take up in your comments, though it really was important to share.

    • Don’t worry about the length, Cici. I’m glad you were able to share and I enjoyed reading it. Come back whenever you’re at a loose end. It would be great to see you again.

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