Google+ Running in Cork, Ireland: Guest Article...Olympic ticket fiasco by Paudie Birmingham

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Guest Article...Olympic ticket fiasco by Paudie Birmingham

The following article was written by Paudie Birmingham of Mallow AC about his experience in buying tickets for the 2012 Olympic games in London....

07/07/2005.   What a terrible day for London.  Islamist terrorists detonated four bombs across London.  Fifty-two people, and four bombers were killed.  Earlier that morning Londoners were waking up to the news that London would be hosting the Olympics in 2012 for the first time since 1948. For me and for most people I guess growing up I would always watch the Olympics and wish I could be there to watch in person. So the news that the Olympics were coming to our next-door neighbours was met with joy. 

The world 7 years ago was a very different place than it is today.   On the day before the bombing Bog Geldof and Bono were trying to convince the G8 in Scotland to drop the debt in the world’s poorest countries and Ireland’s unemployment rate was at 4.5%.  (Now we have Enda and Michael Noonan taking the place of Bob and Bono and the G8 seems to be the Troika).

So as the dust settled on London after those terrible attacks thoughts started turning to the Olympics. Tickets,tickets,tickets.  Thinking back I think I remember Sebastian Coe saying that his Olympics would be the Olympics for everyone and that tickets would start from £10.  Well that was seven years ago so I guess you might expect them to cost slightly more by now.  Oh if it was just that simple.   
I am one of the lucky ones and I have got myself a ticket for 1 night.  Lots of my running friends also entered the lottery and were not as lucky so they unfortunately will be watching the Olympics on TV as if it was in China or some other far off country.  I’m sure there will be plenty of overpriced package deals to be got if you have the funds but as we are in harder times I think this option will not be for everybody. 

To get my tickets I had to enter the strangest lottery.  The London Olympics committee in their wisdom decided to give people the option to put in a range in which you would basically bid for tickets.  In my case I looked for tickets for 3 nights.  My preferred seats would be category D seats but could pay for category C if there were no D seats.   What’s the difference???  Well two Cat C seats cost £250 + £12 delivery.  I think the Cat D seats were £90ea. 

While waiting for months to see if I got tickets I got plenty of e-mails telling me how my I could be part of the occasion by buying limited edition merchandise.  Everything from Olympics pins from £6 to coins up to £550. Hmm… I think not.  After all, I could be liable for £750 worth of tickets if I got tickets for all the events I applied for.  So, after several months waiting to see if I was successful, I received an e-mail in June 2011 informing me I got one of my preferred nights and it was a Cat C ticket. Ok that’s £250.  Not too bad. 

Next to see where my seats will be.   Oh sorry that information is not available.  And more to the point will not be available until you receive your ticket in April 2012.  I found this really strange as I went to the world athletics championship in Berlin in 2009 and not alone could I get a great seat for 55 euro but I could pick my seat at the time of booking.   And this was the night Usain Bolt broke the 200m record and it was a packed house.  Now that’s value. 

Anyway back to London.  In late January, an e-mail was sent to successful tickets winners to update their address.  Sounds good but you cannot update to an address other than on a credit card you own.   As stated earlier, times are different and not everybody has the joy of having a credit card these days.   In my case I travel now due to work commitments and spend long periods of time away from my home house so I guess I will just leave the home address so they can get delivered there.  STOP.  Please note these tickets will need to be signed for upon delivery.   Hmmmm.  Ok I will need somebody in the house to collect my tickets.   When will they arrive?  Sometime in April.   Hmmm.  They sure don’t make things easy.  So I have my ticket but will I get it into my hands?  Well who knows at this stage.   All I can guarantee at this stage is that I have paid for them and also paid £12 delivery for something I have no idea when it will arrive.

Ok so what’s next?  Somewhere to stay for a few nights.  A two night stay in London during this wonderful time will just set me back approximately £400.  Sounds like I’m living it up now.  Afraid not.  This is a self-catering apartment.  I couldn’t afford the £700+ required for a 3 star hotel.   Flights next.   Lets not even go there.   Ok all in all its about £1000 to go for 1 night to the Olympic games.  Is it worth it?  Well I sure hope so.  

My opinion has changed – I don’t believe these are the Olympics for everybody.  It’s for those lucky enough to still have a job that pays enough to do this.  I’m one of those and for that I am very grateful.   Ireland currently has an unemployment rate of 14.8%.  Lots of people who have lost their jobs have taken up running.  Lots of time on your hands, it’s an inexpensive hobby, and a good way to keep fit and feel good at a time when things are bleak -  but I wonder -  will some of our torch bearers be made up of the 14.8% or will it be only made up of professionals???  Maybe a celebrity here or there:  Maybe even a Seoige girl to add a bit of glamour?

I understand that to run an event the size of the Olympics is a massive undertaking but let’s hope that the organisers don’t forget that it’s the ordinary Joe Soap who gets up early in the morning to sit in front of the TV hoping that one of their heroes gets to win a medal. Shouldn’t one of Joe Soap’s be given the lifetime opportunity to be a torch bearer – regardless of their sporting or academic achievements?  Over commercialising the event and excluding the average Joe Soap, in my opinion, will do this wonderful event an injustice.  I’m sure lots will disagree with me but my fear is that it’s quickly turning into how much money can be squeezed from hosting the Olympics.


Anonymous said...

very well written paudie. it seems like a criminal event in every sense of the word. i hope you do enjoy it but having seen a couple of programmes on panorama and dispatches on the dodgy way in which londoners and spectators are getting fleeced i'm not surprised. as for for delivery of tickets i can take care of them if you like. i can pass on my address to you in charleville if it helps and hold them for you. if i'm not in(i'm off over easter) my wife should be around.
cathal daly


Anonymous said...

Great article Paudie....I really hope you enjoy your expensive night in London...bring everyone at Mallow AC back a rock :-)

Anonymous said...

Paudie, good article, spent 1000 Euros on tickets for me and family, ended up reselling them when I encountered what you did...insane

Anonymous said...

Great article Paudie, even if feedback is a few years late...c/o m lyons.