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Playing an Olympic-sized waiting game - Curt Yeomans

OK, the folks running the London 2012 Olympics are so not going to get a gold medal in the downhill ticket sales event. They'd be doing good, at this point, if they could barely manage to win the bronze.

I am supposed to find out this week if I have been blessed with "winning" tickets to next year's Olympics. I say "winning" because the tickets are basically being given out on a lottery system. Rather than doing ticket sales on a first come, first served basis, organizers of the world's biggest sporting event decided to have a balloting system.

I have still not found out anything.

You file a "request" for tickets to Olympic events, and if not enough people request tickets for the event you want to attend, then Voila!, you are guaranteed your tickets. If more people request tickets to an event than there is space to accomodate them, then, it goes to a random lottery system, where you have no clue about your chances.

I requested tickets to the opening ceremony (one of the 1 million-plus people who requested that event); a session of swimming that, among other things, includes the men's and women's 400-meter individual medley finals and medal ceremony, and the men's 400-meter freestyle finals, and then an early round of gymnastics.

All-in-all, my request adds up to $515 worth of tickets. Guess what my chances of getting tickets are, in a balloting system in which a whole lot of people participated? Well, maybe I'll be lucky and get everything, but it is also entirely possible that I could be going overseas just to see one early round of gymnastics.

Don't get me wrong, gymnastics will be a nice event, but I meant it to be a side dish to seeing a bigger event, or two. It's sort of like the Caesar salad to go with the thick, juicy steak and baked potato (with butter, sour cream and chives!) that represents the opening ceremony and swimming finals.

Getting only gymnastics is like going to the steakhouse just to get the salad. That's not why you go to a steakhouse. Then again, I could get nothing at all. Then, there's no point in even going to the steakhouse.

The company that is handling ticket sales in the U.S. has said it will send ticket confirmations out sometime this week, but I'm beginning to doubt that will happen. I don't blame the company for that. Oh no, I blame organizers for this one.

If you have not been getting your anglophile fix lately, I'll catch you up to speed. The people of Britain are upset with the London Organising (their spelling, not mine) Committee of the Olympic Games, also known in Britain as "Locog" (sounds like the name of a science fiction villain, like out of Flash Gordon or something), for the way it has handled ticket sales.

The BBC reported on Wednesday that the group was supposed to begin taking ticket payments on May 10, but was basically just getting started this week. The payments are being taken by charging the Visa (they only take Visa, since it's an Olympics sponsor) card number that people provided when they requested their tickets.

Oh, and did I forget to mention the part about them taking the money before telling people exactly which tickets you actually got through the balloting process?

As it stands, I set aside money to pay for my full request more than a week ago, when "Locog" suddenly said it was going to begin taking payments, starting LAST WEEK (yeah, we saw how that has panned out).

So, I've had to leave this money untouched for over a week now, and God only knows how much longer I will have to leave it untouched, or if I even need to leave it untouched (remember there's a possibility that I got nothing through the balloting process). But, to not know anything is absurd, and outrageous, and it's starting to leave a bitter taste in my mouth.

I want to know if I'm going to be charged any money. I want to know if I got my steak dinner!

Curt Yeomans covers government for the Clayton News Daily. He can be reached via e-mail at cyeomans@news-daily.com.