|A 2005 celebration of the UK's winning bid for the Olympics|
And while nobody was paying much attention, tickets for the games went on sale today, marking the start of a 500-day countdown until the Games themselves.
My advice: if you have any thought of going and you want to see one of the blockbuster events, like the Opening Ceremony or the finals in gymnastics, apply for tickets soon and plan for the travel later. Inevitably, hotel prices drop right before the Games, as the large national contingents that often block off rooms realize that not all their members will attend. So getting rooms at the last minute is almost always the best strategy. But with tickets....well, the red-letter events go off the market quickly. (Want to see archery? You can probably wait to buy.)
Here's how it works: all would-be attendees have until April 26 to apply for the first round of tickets. Those who want tickets for the less popular events will simply get them (and with 3.3 million tickets up for grabs, many events should be quite easy to snag). If demand exceeds supply for the event you wish to purchase, you are automatically entered into a lottery for the tickets. Applicants must use Visa credit cards (the sponsor of the Games) and their cards can not have expiration dates later than August of 2011, or they will not be processed. If you're successful, your credit card will be charged. Tickets range in price from just $32 to well over $1000 for the most coveted events.
I was lucky enough to be in Beijing during the last Olympic Games, and I have to say it was an exhilarating experience. Through an odd set of circumstances, I never got to attend any of the actual events. But being in the city as the world descended, meeting athletes everywhere and excited strangers from all over the world, hoarding Olympic tissue packs (yes I still have them) and buy souvenirs...well, it was a thrill and an experience I can heartily recommend.