Lucky Kiwis off to Olympic Games
More than 3000 lucky New Zealanders are heading to the London Olympic Games in July as spectators are striking it lucky in the ticket ballot.
Christchurch man Paul Coughlan is among them.
Coughlan decided last year to shout himself a 40th birthday present and applied for tickets in the ballot.
"I am the envy of several of my friends in London," he said.
"We got pretty much all the tickets we asked for, including six night sessions at the track and field meet.
"Unfortunately, we have not secured tickets to the shot put final but will be there for the 100 metres semis and final and middle-distance finals."
Tickets have been highly sought after, with demand exceeding supply at the track and field venue. More than a million subscribers were in the ballot.
A New Zealand Olympic Committee spokesperson said research showed 3000 New Zealanders were heading to the Games, most of them as part of tour operator-offered deals.
Coughlan is the man behind Christchurch's annual international track and field meeting.
"So over the years I have got to know the likes of Nick Willis and Val Adams. It will be great to be there to cheer them on and know a bunch of other Kiwis will be there, too," he said.
Olympic fans who missed out on tickets for the London Games will get another opportunity this week, including a chance of securing high-demand seats for the opening ceremony.
Olympic organisers said yesterday they were putting nearly 1 million tickets on sale, with priority given to those people who were unsuccessful in previous rounds.
The 900,000 tickets will be available on a first-come, first-served basis to the nearly 1 million people in Britain who applied previously but missed out.
"We know thousands of sports fans were disappointed when they missed out in the initial sales period because of the massive demand for tickets," organising committee chairman Sebastian Coe said.
"We promised we would prioritise these fans when we released the contingency tickets, which is exactly what we are doing."
The tickets will go on sale online at the official website, tickets.london2012.com, from 11pm (NZ time).
Organising committee chief executive Paul Deighton said about 5000 tickets would be available for the men's 100m final on the evening of August 5. That event is expected to feature Olympic champion and world record-holder Usain Bolt.
Also on sale will be the remaining 5000 tickets for the opening ceremony and 5000 for the closing ceremony.
Priority will be given to the 20,000 people who failed to secure tickets in the initial ballot last year and missed out again in a second sale.
Those patrons will be given 31 hours' exclusive access before the 1 million people who applied unsuccessfully in the initial ballot get their own exclusive five-day sales period.
All customers will be limited to applying to one session and a maximum of four tickets.
Buyers could expect 20 minutes of "queuing" on the website in the expected crush for tickets, Ticketmaster's managing director, Chris Edmonds, said.
"Hundreds of thousands of people could be hitting the website," he said.
"There is potentially going to be some slowing within the ticketing process, consistent with putting on sale an event of a major artist like Madonna or Lady Gaga."
Any tickets that remain unsold will go back on general sale on May 23.
The sale of the 8.8 million Olympic tickets began last year, with most snapped up in the early rounds.
Organisers are trying to raise about NZ$1 billion from ticket sales, a quarter of their operating budget.
Coe said 75 per cent of the tickets would go to the British public, with 25 per cent to foreign fans, national Olympic committees, sponsors and other groups.