1 million Olympic tickets to go on sale Friday

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By STEPHEN WILSON, Associated Press

LONDON (AP) — Olympic fans who missed out on tickets for the London Games will get another opportunity this week, including a chance for high-demand seats to the opening ceremony or 100-meter final.

Olympic organizers said Tuesday they are 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 came up empty handed.

"We know thousands of sports fans were disappointed when they missed out in the initial sales period because of the massive demand for tickets," organizing committee chairman Sebastian Coe said. "We promised we would prioritize 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 www.tickets.london2012.com — starting at 11 a.m. local time on Friday.

Organizing committee chief executive Paul Deighton said about 5,000 tickets would be available for the men's 100-meter final on the evening of Aug. 5 that is expected to feature reigning Olympic champion and world record-holder Usain Bolt. Also on sale will be the remaining 5,000 tickets for the opening ceremony and 5,000 for the closing ceremony.

First 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 customers will be given 31 hours exclusive access before the 1 million people who applied unsuccessfully in the initial ballot will then have their own exclusive 5-day sales period.

All customers will be limited to applying to one session and a maximum of four tickets.

Buyers can 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 May 23.

The sale of 8.8 million total Olympic tickets began last year, with most snatched up in the early rounds.

Organizers are trying to raise about $704 million from ticket sales, a quarter of their operating budget.

Coe said 75 percent of the tickets go to the British public, with 25 percent to foreign fans, national Olympic committees, sponsors and other groups.

Organizing committee LOCOG is on target to meet its ticket revenue target and ensure that "all our venues are packed to the rafters with passionate fans," Coe said.

Being sold separately are 1.4 million soccer tickets. So far, 1.1 million have been sold for the soccer tournament, which kicks off two days before the opening ceremony with a women's match between Britain and New Zealand in Cardiff, Wales, on July 25. Only 11,000 tickets have been sold so far for that game.

LOCOG has faced considerable criticism in Britain for its ticket policy, with buyers and watchdog groups complaining of a lack of transparency over the sales and the computer system dogged by glitches and huge demand.

Also Monday, organizers announced that 70,000 tickets will be sold allowing access to the Olympic Park to watch the events on big screens, mainly in the first week before the track and field starts. Those tickets — which do not offer entry to the competition venues — will sell for 10 pounds ($16) and 5 pounds ($8) for those under 16 or over 60.

Also on sale will be tickets to the "Orbit," the 375-foot tower in the center of the Olympic Park designed by London-based artist Anish Kapoor. The full-price 15 pound ($24) tickets are only for those who have tickets for the park or competitions in the park.

Going on sale May 29 will be tickets for the start of the cycling road race at Box Hill in Surrey and the individual time trial start at Hampton Court Palace. Full priced tickets will run 15 pounds ($24). Tickets to the grassy hill at Wimbledon to watch Olympic tennis matches on the big screen will cost 10 pounds ($16).

LOCOG also relaxed a policy on bringing babies into the venues that had caused an uproar among parents groups.

Previously, parents had complained they would have to buy full price tickets for their infants. Under the new policy, babies 12 months and under will be permitted without a ticket at most events as long as they are "securely strapped to their parent or (caretaker) by way of a baby carrier, sling, papoose or similar."

The exception is at the soccer venues at Wembley, St. James Park and Old Trafford and the North Greenwich venue for gymnastics and the basketball finals. Organizers said those venue have existing licensing agreements that require tickets of all spectators regardless of age.

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