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Top tips for buying last minute Olympic and Paralympic Games tickets

Posted at 3:30 pm, August 10, 2012 in Olympics & Paralympics
Olympic tickets © Flickr: p_a_h

Are you one of the many people that only realised they wanted to go to the Olympics after it started? People have been logging on to the LOCOG ticketing website daily in their hundreds and thousands since the Games began, and users of the site have been very vocal about their extreme frustrations of how difficult it is to secure tickets. If you want to get into any of the Olympic and Paralympic venues, you need to be clued-up more than your average ticket-buyer.

Here are our tips for buying tickets – an Olympic endeavour in itself:


Someone has set up a ticket alert feed: @2012ticketalert and an overflow account @2012ticketaler2. They also have a webpage with general tips for how to beat the ticket machine. They’ve recently added a feed for the Paralympics @2012paraalert.

People are selling spare tickets at face value and swapping tickets at #2012tweeps often right up until the very last minute. Use your common sense about whether people’s ticket offers are above-board and remember it’s illegal for tickets to be sold above face value.

Ticket checker

One of the #2012Tweeps (@benmarsh) has set up a ticket checker which runs in the background (handy for those of you with jobs) – you can follow up to five specific events and set (LOUD) audio alerts to go off if tickets become available for any of them. When tickets become available it tells you which category they are and there’s a link to go and buy them. There are also some general hints and tips to help you on your way.

Persistence and luck

The most valuable tools in your arsenal given that the official website can often seem like it’s doing your best to work against you. Despite the apparent gremlins in the system, fastest finger first usually wins.

Good luck!

And here’s a bit of the story behind the Tweeps, for those who like a heartwarming social media yarn:

Mechanical engineer Simon Young (@esvoa) thought he would be living abroad when the Olympics kicked in, but when his plans fell through he decided to make a concerted effort to get tickets with the help of a community of helpful Olympic fans on Twitter – the 2012 Tweeps. Operating mainly under the hashtag #2012Tweeps, they do their best to unite Olympics fans with spare tickets via swaps or face-value sales.

And in the dying days of the Olympic games, they might be able to help you too…

‘The Tweeps started at least 18 months ago – I found them very late. There’s a real community feel at the core, but it’s a very open and inclusive ethos and there’s no such thing as an “outsider”; everyone helps everyone who asks. Early on, a list of Authorised Ticket Resellers was created, noting when specific resales were, but was abandoned mid-June as there were so many last-minute sales it was impossible to keep up. LOCOG continual sales then started around early-to-mid July.

‘A major part of the 2012 Tweeps was “The List” where it was possible to show what tickets you had and what tickets were “spare”. They could be offered to swap (with particular conditions, eg. will accept any evening athletics). This was absolutely invaluable. In accordance with the law (and general social-media-win niceness), no tickets ever changed hands for more than the seller had bought them for. The List was coded by @nmdouglas and administered by @2012Tweeps, a fantastic lady called Alex. Another major figure in starting the Tweeps is @matt_shoreditch. No question @volshy has also been very visible, but his role has mostly been retweeting requests and notifications of spares or of sales.

‘As we’ve got closer to the games, there have been more unreasonable requests (“Anybody want to sell me four £20.12 tickets to the opening ceremony tomorrow?”, “I’ve got two table-tennis tickets, will swap for 100m final”) but even those are tolerated and retweeted, often with a wry grin. The Tweeps also started socialising at the Games, identified by #2012Tweeps lanyards (by @jamjaw), the T-shirts (by @2012Tweeps herself, the last batch organised and sent out by Alex despite the death of her father just before the Games) and the pin badges (by an unidentified Tweep) were sold with all profits to Médecins Sans Frontières. All the news coverage of Laura Trott being hugged trackside by her father show him wearing a #2012Tweeps ticket lanyard – we’ve helped quite a few athletes get tickets for their families, including Dai Greene.

‘I’m not aware of any Tweeps sales that have occurred for more than the price the seller paid for them (and that would be illegal anyway). Then the last-minute LOCOG sales started, each notified by Tweeps (“LOCOG now!” was often all they said, sometimes with a particular sport identified). I got cheap athletics and swimming, both great sessions, and a week later not one but two pairs of velodrome tickets. The rest of my tickets came from swaps or buying people’s spares.

‘Two days before the Games, I had tickets for thirteen sports and was a very happy person. And then the final stroke of magic. Ben Marsh’s ticket tracker had alerted me on three separate occasions that morning of new Opening Ceremony tickets on the official site at £150, and even once of the fabled £20.12. I couldn’t really pay £150, but kept the relevant page open on the London site just in case, and went back to refresh it every now and then. Mid-afternoon, I happened to notice the open tab, refreshed it… and there was a pair of £20.12 Opening Ceremony tickets in my basket. Just incredible.’

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