SBD/March 16, 2011/Olympics

Visa Apologizes For Snafu On First Day Of London Games Ticket Sales

Fans with Visa cards expiring before end of August could not complete ticket orders
Visa "has apologised to sports fans who were unable to book tickets" for the '12 London Games on the first day they went on sale, according to the UKPA. Fans with Visa cards that "expire before the end of August found the ticket website, which went live on Tuesday, could not complete their orders." A Visa Europe spokesperson said, "We are working closely with all relevant parties to resolve this issue as soon as possible." LOCOG officials noted that the website and ticketing guide "clearly states that in order to process an application, Visa cards must not expire earlier than August 2011." This is because while people are "applying now for tickets, they will be paying for them between May 10 and June 10 and will need their card to be valid at this time" (UKPA, 3/16). In London, Owen Gibson notes Visa "promised to work on a solution that would allow those with cards that expire before August to submit their applications." LOCOG Chair Sebastian Coe has had to "defend Visa, an Olympic sponsor for 25 years, for being the only card that can be used to pay for tickets online." Checks are "accepted, but only through" the mail (GUARDIAN, 3/16). In London, Ben Smith notes despite "fears the website would creak under the strain, with more than 2.5 million people having already signed up to the ticket website before sale began, Coe said that the 2012 infrastructure had stood up well to its first significant test." There already are "indications that the 15 track-and-field sessions in the 80,000-seat stadium will be oversubscribed almost twice over." Coe said, "We have had no reported glitches. It is not a first-come, first-served system and there will be no greater chance of getting a ticket if you apply on the first day rather than later" (LONDON TIMES, 3/16).

CORPORATE PRICES TOO HIGH? The BBC's Adrian Warner wrote Olympic tickets for corporate hospitality "will be the most expensive ever" -- around US$434,500 for a package that includes the Opening Ceremony. Officials from "20 top companies which usually entertain clients at sports events" indicated that the prices of the packages are "too high and that they are not flexible enough" (BBC.co.uk, 3/15).  

TIME STANDS STILL: In London, Rob Hastings reports the Olympic countdown clock "broke down yesterday, hours after a TV comedy about the build-up to the Games had depicted a similar debacle." The digital clock in London's Trafalgar Square was "started in a whirl of flashing lights and fireworks on Monday night" by Coe to mark 500 days until the Games begin. Despite the "modern design of the real clock, made by Omega, it ground to a halt after less than 18 hours -- 500 days, seven hours, six minutes and 56 seconds before the start" of the Games. Six hours after the company's engineers "arrived to fix it last night, the clock was back up and running, having been adjusted to compensate for the mishap" (LONDON INDEPENDENT, 3/16).
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