London Olympic Ticket Prices Announced

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2012 London Olympics tickets

Lefteris Pitarakis/AP

Much as the organizers will want to promote the laudable fact that 90% of the tickets are set to cost less than £100 ($160), the main headline might just be that the top priced seat matches the Olympic year in question.

£2,012 ($3,220) will get you a prime position at the opening ceremony (Spoiler alert! The ceremony will feature red buses, black cabs and people drinking tea. There may also be rain) but at least you’ll get a travel card (value: $12) thrown in for free! In the interests of fairness, tickets costing just £20.12 ($32.20) are also available for London’s grand debut.

(See pictures of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.)

Of the 8.8 million tickets available, 75% are going to be sold to the public from March 2011, 2.5 million of which will cost £20 ($32) or less. 125,000 tickets will be set aside for schoolchildren, who will have to achieve something to earn them (NewsFeed was schooled in London so imagines elocution could be involved).

And while some sessions at the marathon, road cycling and triathlon will be free, blue-ribbon events such as the men’s 100m final will cost up to £725 ($1,160). Or to put it another way: if Usain Bolt takes 9.5 seconds, it will set you back $122 a second.

London 2012 chairman — and former Olympic champion — Sebastian Coe called it “the daddy of all ticket strategies,” adding: “We have three clear principles for our ticketing strategy: tickets need to be affordable and accessible to as many people as possible, tickets are an important revenue stream for us to fund the Games, and our ticketing plans have the clear aim of filling our venues to the rafters.”

Comparisons are sure to be made to the previous games in Beijing, which had a more affordable ticket policy, though of course, China’s social makeup is entirely different to the U.K.’s. Opening ceremony costs in 2008 ranged between $30-$760. However, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) were critical of empty stands — a fate that befell this month’s Commonwealth Games in India — with Chinese officials forced to bus in crowds to make up the numbers. Going slightly further back (in terms of opening ceremonies), tickets in Athens 2004 cost between $65-$1,242 and Sydney 2000 were set at $184-$1,383

(See a progress report on the 2012 Olympics.)

But whether you’re paying top or bottom dollar, all we can advise is this: make the most of that free travel card (and bring an umbrella).