SPORTS

High demand for tickets

Olympic Games organizers Athens 2004 were jubilant yesterday, saying that demand for tickets to the Games had reached unprecedented levels. «To give you an idea of the tremendous interest for the Athens Games, the demand (for tickets) by national Olympic committees was double Sydney’s… For the opening and closing ceremonies, the demand (by Olympic committees, sponsors and others allocated 43.4 percent of the tickets) exceed total capacity by 468 percent,» Athens 2004’s general manager for marketing, Giorgos Bolos, said. «We will consider our ticketing campaign a success if we manage to have full stadiums, if there are no complaints about the transparency of the process and if we achieve our revenue goal of 183 million euros,» said Athens 2004 executive director Marton Simitsek. He added later that this goal can be achieved by selling 68 percent of the tickets. Selling the 5.3 million tickets available for the 2004 Olympics is a complicated process. There will be no free tickets or invitations. There are a number of tickets, 2.3 million in total, to be distributed to the International Olympic Committee, national committees, sponsors, broadcasters and state officials. It is also out of those 2.3 million, more precisely out of the tickets distributed to national committees, that people outside the European Union and the European Economic Area will get their own tickets. The remaining 3 million tickets are available to Greek citizens, as well as to citizens of 17 other countries who are EU and EEA members. By law, it is required that all these people have equal rights of access to these tickets. «In essence, 10 million Greeks will be competing with 350 million other Europeans for these 3 million tickets,» Simitsek said. There are several ways to apply for the 3 million tickets: Greeks will find an application form inside a brochure which will begin to be freely distributed on April 29. They must fill in and submit this form, between May 12 and June 12, at one of 420 branches of Alpha Bank, the official bank of the Games. Both Greeks and foreigners can also make an electronic reservation over the Internet (at the website www.athens2004.com/tickets) where the same form will be available in Greek, English and French. The submission deadlines are the same. There is no priority given for early submission. Organizers said that it is important for applicants to provide alternatives. This will make it easier for them to get tickets. If demand exceeds supply, and Athens 2004 fully expects that it will, ticket allocation will take place by lottery. It is a system that has also been followed at the 1996 and 2000 Summer Olympics and the 2002 Winter Games. By September 2003, applicants will receive a confirmation letter with the allocation of their tickets. It is with this letter, and their ID, that they will collect the tickets next year. Payment can be made in cash (prepayment required) by Visa card or through an Alpha Bank account.