Olympian effort at buying Olympic tickets

10 Comments 22 July 2012

It started with the ticket lottery. All interested people in Britain got to put their name in a hat and see if they were drawn. Immediately people started grumbling. It was highly irregular. What happened to just buying tickets? The system would crash, we were told. Then the system did crash. More grumblings. Oh and because Visa were the Olympic sponsors we could only use a Visa card to buy tickets. It was all becoming A Bit Much and people who were not interested in buying Olympic tickets were getting Well and Truly Fed Up with all the noise.

(If you are one of those people, best click away now because you will only hear a lot more noise here.)

Anyway. Because there was nothing else to be done, everyone just pulled their socks up and got on with it.

We looked at the website, chose what tickets we fancied at what price bands we could afford, and because we may get all or some (or none) of the tickets we calculated the most we could possibly afford, entered our details and waited.

A few months later the people of Britain found out what tickets we were allocated after the hat draw. But we found out first by looking at our Visa statements. Then everyone was calculating madly–“ok so, if £285 was withdrawn from my account that must mean I got the cycling and athletics but not the swimming” or whatever. Then a week or two after that we received emails. Or a letter, I can’t remember, announcing which tickets we had been allocated in the hat draw. That’s when the stories started coming out.

“No one got Opening Ceremony Tickets.” (Obviously thousands of people did but no one that this person knew.)

“Hardly anyone in Essex got tickets.” (Which was indeed crap news because the Olympics are in Essex so a great way to make the locals annoyed would be to set up a system so they can’t get tickets to the local history making event–unless they are so fabulously wealthy that they could afford to gamble many thousands of pounds on the hat draw in hopes of getting some tickets.)

“I chose £20,000 worth of tickets and got none!” (Even the fabulously wealthy were unlucky.)

“I chose £20,000 worth of tickets and got all of them and I can’t afford £20,000!” (There are always a few of these.)

Chris Hoy, Sir Chris Hoy Britain’s cycling hero, was also cross about the tickets. Olympians were only allocated 2 tickets each per session they compete in. So that means, what, your mum and your wife can go? What about Dad? Or kids?

He told the BBC: ‘I don’t think athletes’ families have been taken into consideration. It’s not rocket science. It just needs somebody to sit down and think about the families who have got the athletes to this level. Just a little bit of payback would be very welcome…consider how you would feel if your son or daughter had worked for 10 or 12 years and slaved, trained really hard, got to this level, and then you were told “Really sorry, you’re going to have to sit and watch it at home.”

Well of course Chris’ family entered the ticket lottery like everyone else in hopes of getting more tickets, and just like everyone else, they were disappointed with the lack of tickets they received.

When we found out what tickets were allocated from the hat draw it was a disappointment–we didn’t get any. “Disappointed” is an understatement–especially for husband as he is a sports nut. Here we live 40 minutes from the Olympic park and we won’t be going.

Then I signed up to the American site and in January they opened up more ticket sales. We looked; saw loads of water polo tickets and husband said he would love to see that as he played water polo at university. We were happy. This was not a lottery; we would be going to the Olympics after all. Hurrah! We had a cup of coffee, he went to work, and I did the school run, came back and sat at my laptop in the kitchen.

However. The water polo tickets had all gone. What an idiot. As if I was the only person they were waiting on to buy tickets. Stupid. I was thinking of how disappointed my husband would be as well. So I was doubly cross. AND hormonal. In a big way. You know how you go to the grocery store and you see a parking space but there’s a shopping trolley in it so you go to the next one and someone has parked crooked so you can’t use it, then you go to the next space and start to park but get the angle wrong and then get the angle wrong again and so you burst into tears and oh it’s just such an awful day! That kind of hormonal. So I burst into tears and shouted at the little Olympic ticket sales committee inside my laptop, telling them all kinds of colourful sailor/trucker things. Then, as is usual in these kinds of moments, husband rang.

“Got the tickets?” he asked excitedly.

“Whaaaaaaaaaaaaa!” I said.

“I’ll call back later.”

Then a little laptop fairy caught my attention. Looky here! she said brightly, There are synchronised swimming tickets still available! Which means you can still get to the pool which husband would like. You can save the day AND still get 6 of you to the Olympics! I blinked, my relief an instant tonic for the hormone upset.

Hurrah! I said, Hurrah!!

I bought the tickets. Only, I didn’t. I reserved the tickets then had to sit while a timer swirled as the little Olympic ticket committee in my laptop checked to see if the advertised tickets were actually available. Nope. All gone. Try again! Three times over 45 minutes I did this little game. The laptop fairy had long gone, escaping the approaching rumblings of the hormone thunderstorm. Finally, at a slightly higher price than I thought we could afford, I had some luck, and we got synchronised swimming tickets.

Triumphant, and finally all cried out, I rang husband.

“We got tickets!”


“But not for water polo as they had all gone.”

“Ok… For what then?”

“Synchronised swimming! Which means you still get to see the pool and I know you were really keen to see it and also I got tickets for 6 of us which was quite difficult but in the end…I got them. So that’s good then. Right?”

There was only half a beat of silence before he caught the clues in my tone. And perhaps he remembered my previous meltdown.

“Great!” he said in a sort of excited voice.

But of course hormones make you psychic and so I heard him thinking ‘WTF?’ So I said a version of ‘Whaaaaaaaaa!‘ again. He got cold pasta for dinner later and was grateful.

Then in May or June this year more tickets opened on the British site. Should we, shouldn’t we? Forgetting my traumatic experience in January I said let’s go for it. And we discovered rowing tickets were available. As we have four rowers in the family this sounded exciting. Perfect, in fact. Husband went off to work, and I got stuck in. Before the school run.

It wasn’t long into the process that I suddenly remembered the previous trauma. But not being hormonal I kept my cool. I tried for the lowest price tickets on this day, then that day, then another day… and each time I had to sit and wait until the little Olympic ticket committee inside my laptop scurried around, deliberated and decided if I were to be allocated tickets or not.

While I waited the timer spiralled and the ‘estimated waiting time’ counted down and up and down. You will have approximately 10 minutes to wait. You will have approximately 13 minutes wait. Palms sweating. You will have 7 minutes to wait. Twitch. You will have 10 minutes to wait. You will have 3 minutes to wait. You will have 3 minutes to wait. You will have 5 minutes to wait.

I got up to get a drink. Came back and the screen had changed to the message: Sorry! No tickets this time. I had to do it all again. Ugh. So I did it several more times and I still had to go on the school run–time was ticking. Then finally, at a price at the top of my budget, the confirmation came through. And in fact the tickets were for the best day of the rowing. This time when I called husband he was thrilled, no hesitation: “You know what day that is, right? That’s THE BEST POSSIBLE DAY!”


And you know what, the tickets arrived with tube/train travel cards. Someone thought of that. And that was nice.


Oh, and who will The American Resident Household support? Well, we are very fortunate to own some red white and blue bunting, so that should cover both options!


Your Comments

10 Comments so far

  1. Strictly Jen says:

    Lucky you! I hope you enjoy! We tried for tennis, taekwondo, track cycling, road cycling, and then thought let’s throw in football which is very local (we live out of London) so we should get one London event, one local if we’re lucky. We worked out how much we could afford based on having a one week summer holiday instead of a two week. Nope, we just got football. That we didn’t really want, was just an afterthought. But which also meant we couldn’t apply with all the other people that applied first time and were unsuccessful, because we were successful *pah*.
    So we booked a two week summer hol, allowing for the football before we go. Only to find out a couple of months ago there were loads of taekwondo tickets available now, but we can’t go because we gave in and booked a hol.
    Pants. So now we’re kind of going to the Olympics, not to London but to the stadium up the road, and we can’t park there despite there being thousands of spaces because those are for the VIPs, we have to park and ride from a school 20 minutes away.
    Woo hoo!
    By the way, despite my grumpiness, we will have fun. We WILL have fun.

    • Michelloui says:

      You’re not sort of going, you ARE going to the Olympics! You definitely WILL have fun! There will be such a fantastic buzz there, even without being on the Olympic site!!! We are also going to the time trials at Hampton Court (they’re free!), so that’s another idea for you, but that might be when you’re away?

      Enjoy the football AND the holiday–sounds like the best of both worlds :)

  2. Tammy says:

    What an amazingly inept system! I’m so glad your perseverance paid off and within your budget. Congratulations on getting to see two different events (even if your husband was less enthusiastic about one over the other).

    • Michelloui says:

      A lot of people were unhappy with the system, but if I’m to be honest I have to say I’m not sure what the best option really would be!

  3. You’re so sweet and your husband is so lucky! I think I would have sent him a list of links with the encouraging lines: ‘Here you go, darling. Good luck.’


  4. How frustrating!
    In a way I’m kind of glad we’re here and have no choice but to watch it on TV. If we were in London, but failed to get tickets, I’d probably be spitting.

    • Michelloui says:

      What I’ve seen these past couple of weeks though is that a lot of tickets are being released last minute, perhaps they’re the resale tickets form people who can’t make the games for one reason or another. But yes, it would be very frustrating to not be able to go if you really wanted to!!

  5. Jelly Babies says:

    Hope you’re enjoying the Games after all the efforts!

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An American writer in the UK for over 20 years. Lives in Essex. A pretend extrovert.

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