Putting tickets to the 2012 Summer Olympics on sale during the most challenging economic crisis since the Great Depression has forced the organizers of the London games to get creative with their pricing strategy.
Tickets to the 2012 Games, scheduled to take place from July 27 through August 12, will go on sale in March. Prices were announced last week, and while the most expensive tickets are more than the top tickets to the 2008 Beijing Games, organizers are hopeful that affordable tickets and unique packages to the bulk of the events will allow Londoners of all ages and incomes to attend the Olympics.
The most expensive ticket is a ducat to the Opening Ceremonies, which is listed at $3,225 (2,012 pounds). A Closing Ceremony ticket is listed at $2,368 (1,500 pounds). A ticket to the men’s 100-meter dash final is expected to carry the highest price tag of any event at $1,160 (725 pounds), while the finals of the beach volleyball, gymnastics, swimming and diving competitions are predicted to fetch up to $710 (450 pounds).
On the other end of the spectrum, organizers said tickets priced as low as $32 (a little more than 20 pounds) will be available to every single sport. Ninety percent of tickets are expected to be $160 or less while 80 percent will cost $80 or less. All tickets come with a $12 travel card good for bus or train fare.
Organizers are also hoping to tap into the youngest demographic by donating 100,000 tickets to British schools and offering children 16 years and under the opportunity to “pay your age” for a ticket to 200 non-premium events.
“You will be able to watch the likes of [defending 100-meter and 200-meter gold medalist] Usain Bolt in the heats for 20 pounds [$31.50],” Paul Deighton, the chief executive of the Games, told Reuters. “A family of four could attend the Games for 60 pounds [$94.50].”
Sebastian Coe, the former Olympic gold medal long distance runner and the chairman of the London organizing committee, told Reuters that the ticket plans are “…the daddy of all ticket strategies.”
Coe said the committee is determined to make sure every event takes place in front of a capacity crowd. “I’ve always said it would not be acceptable in the UK if we had empty seats in stadiums, and for me that would be a failure,” Coe told Reuters. “Our pricing system is affordable and accessible because we want the venues full to the rafters with people who want to be at the greatest show on Earth.”
Sellouts did not accompany the Beijing Games, though organizers there said before the first wave of tickets went on sale in 2007 that nearly five million people had applied for 2.7 million tickets. Many of the unused tickets were held by sponsors, and Coe said in 2008 that London could sell those tickets to the public.
The Beijing Games were also fraught with issues for ticket resellers. More than $50 million in fraudulent tickets were sold via several websites and those convicted of scalping tickets in Beijing could have faced up to 10 days in prison.
Seventy-five percent of the tickets to the London Games will be sold to the public. Almost nine million tickets will be available to the 649 sessions. According to the Associated Press, 1.7 million people have signed up for tickets. Should the demand exceed the supply, a lottery will be held.