By Duncan Mackay

Organisers were today forced to extend the deadline to apply for tickets for next year's Olympics by more than an hour to cope with a last-minute surge in demand.

Problems struck the website for about 20 minutes from 10.30pm last night, as the clock ticked down to the 11.59pm deadline for the 6.6 million tickets.

At 11.37pm - 22 minutes before the deadline expired - London 2012 posted a Twitter message informing people it had been extended.

"We apologise for any inconvenience this delay may have caused and the ticketing system will remain open until 1am," the message said.

The website still appeared to be accepting applications after this time, however, but by 1.30am a spokesman confirmed the site was closed to new applicants and a notice on the site told users that applications for tickets had shut.

Members of the public using the site to register for tickets, which will be allocated later by ballot, were met by a holding message.

The website,, displayed a page telling would-be customers: "We're experiencing high demand. You will be automatically directed to the page requested as soon as it becomes available. Thank you for your patience."

After a lengthy waiting period the holding page timed out leaving some users with a new page that read simply: "Sorry, we cannot process your request. Please try again later."

Sports fans were told that the six-week ticket application was a marathon, not a sprint, and that they would have the same chance of getting a ticket on the first or the last day of the process.

There were 650 sessions across 26 sports and 17 days to choose from, and people were limited to a maximum of 20 events each.

Prices ranged from £20 ($33) to £2,012 ($3,321).

They included paying up to £2,012 for the opening ceremony, up to £725 ($1,196) for the showpiece 100m athletics final and between £50 ($83) and £325 ($537 million) for the track cycling finals.

People will find out whether or not they have secured tickets by June 24.

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By Duncan Mackay

The deadline for applying for tickets for next year's London Olympics is 11.59 tonight with a late rush expected as fans scramble to be part of the biggest sports event ever to be held in Britain and snap up some of the 6.6 million tickets available.

Tickets have been on sale for six weeks but Easter weekend was the busiest since tickets went on sale, with applications peaking on Sunday (April 24), London 2012 officials have revealed.

Supporters – who have applied from as far afield as the Falkland Islands – will discover whether they have been successful by the end of next month.

Depending on levels of sales, which organisers insist are "going well across the board", there may be further windows but chances of securing tickets for high-profile events will be slim.

"Applications have been steady but at a high level, which is in line with operational expectations – but now they have hit the roof," said Paul Deighton, the chief executive of London 2012.

"Every day we have had a massive number of orders – which is not surprising, because people have taken on board that it's not a first-come, first-served system.

"They have sat down with their families to decide what they want.

"In the last week we have been getting three or four times the applications above and beyond what was coming in for the previous five weeks."

With 650 sessions across 26 sports and 17 days, people will be limited to a maximum of 20 events each.

The most popular events, including the men's 100 metres final, have a limit of four tickets per person.

Money will be taken out of bank accounts between May 10 and June 10, and people informed of which events they will be lucky enough to be attending on June 24.

A large number of applicants have yet to complete their on-line purchases, although they have started the process..

"We know that over 100,000 people are part way through their application, but they must be fully submitted to count," said Deighton.

"We urge sports fans complete their applications by [to]night, or they could miss out."

After tonight's deadline the applications will be processed and ballots arranged for over-subscribed events, such as the Opening and Closing ceromenies and events in the Velodrome, where Britain are expected to win several medals.

London 2012 have targeted selling 80 per cent of the 6.6 million tickets by tonight, which would leave a further £100 million ($165 million)-worth to sell.

Ticket sales need to contribute a total of £500 million ($823 million), around a quarter of the London 2012 overall budget.


By Tom Degun

Jeremy Hunt (pictured), the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport, has admitted that he was "very puzzled" by the row that developed between the British Olympic Association (BOA) and London 2012 regarding surplus from the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The BOA are due 20 per cent of any surplus after the Games but are claiming the cost of staging the Paralympics should not be taken into account when calculating that surplus.

The organisation last week announced that they have temporarily suspended their decision to take the row to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and have decided to reopen talks with London 2012 and while Hunt is confident that an amicable solution to the dispute will be found, he stated that he found the BOA's actions rather perplexing.

"I was very puzzled by what has happened [between the BOA and London 2012]," Hunt told insidethegames.

"This was not the right argument for us to be having so close to having the London 2012 Games.

"However I am confident that we're working our way through a solution on this and I'm very hopeful that we'll be able to go back to business as normal in the near future.

"So its fingers crossed."

Hunt, who was formerly Shadow Minister for Disabled People, met with London 2012 chairman Sebastian Coe yesterday to discuss the issue.

"The Paralympics means an awful lot to me," Coe told insidethegames.

"I never ever thought of myself going uniquely to win a bid to win an Olympic Games back [at the International Olympic Committee Session] in Singapore in 2005.

"I saw the legacy value of both the Olympic and Paralympic Games in equal measure and I continue to see just that."


By Duncan Mackay

Minister Mark Arbib.Australia's top athletes are to receive an extra $3 million (£2 million) in funding to help them prepare for next year's Olympics in London following an announcement by Sports Minister Mark Arbib (pictured) today.

The increase takes the total funding for the Government's Direct Athlete Support scheme to $7.43 million (£4.8 million) a year and will ensure that more than 650 athletes across 30 sports will be supported.

"We think this is a fantastic result for our athletes," said Arbib.

"To put this into some sort of context, in 2005, when Direct Athlete Support first came in, it helped about 105 of our athletes, now it will support 665 athletes.

"It is something we are very proud of and will go a long way to assisting our athletes on their way to London and other World Championship events.

"We know international sport is only getting tougher, and what we are seeing when we travel overseas is other countries are investing more and more in their teams and also their training facilities and sports science.

"There is no doubt about it, world class sport is becoming more and more competitive and the Australian government wants to ensure our athletes are the best prepared."

In last year's budget, the Government announced spending of $324.8 million (£210.2 million) over four years - including $195.2 million(£126.3 million) in new funding - of which $237 million (£153 million) was for elite sports.

Athletes who are ranked in the top four in the world in their sport receive $13,000-$21,000 (£8,500-£13,500) a year, while those in the top 10 get $10,000 (£6,500) per annum.

"Obviously in the last couple of years the competition from our overseas competitors has become much more so we need to make sure that they get the same access that our other Olympians get and that's happened, so that's a good thing," said Arbib.


By Duncan Mackay at SportAccord in London

Crystal Palace National Park, London.Brazil is to use the Crystal Palace National Sports Centre as its training base for the London 2012 Games, it has been announced.

More than 200 Brazilian competitors are expected to use the South London facility before and during the Games under an agreement signed by Carlos Nuzman, President of both the Rio 2016 Organising Committee and the Brazilian Olympic Committee, and Crystal Palace operators GLL Sport Foundation.

"Signing this historic agreement is a major step in the preparation plans for Team Brazil in 2012, while also laying the foundations for Brazil's planning for the 2016 Games," said Nuzman, who signed the official agreement during SportAccord here.

"We are confident that Crystal Palace National Sports Centre will offer the best possible training and preparation environment for our athletes, enabling them to achieve the best possible sporting results.

"In addition, the sports centre will house all members of the Brazilian delegation not accredited to the Olympic Village such as doctors, assistant coaches and physiotherapists - forming the headquarters for Brazil during the London Games."

The agreement to establish a 2012 HQ next summer will be the first time this style of preparation base has used by Brazil, who are hoping for a good performance to help set them up for Rio 2016.

A full range of Olympic athletes and technical staff will be hosted at the Centre, including volleyball, beach volleyball, handball, basketball, taekwondo, boxing, athletics, swimming and diving.

Brazil sent a team of 277 competitors to Beijing, who competed in 24 sports.

They finished 23rd in the overall medals table with 15 medals, including three gold.

The National Sports Centre is currently the subject of interest from the local Championship club, Crystal Palace, who want it as a replacement for their current stadium at Selhurst Park.

But local officials are delighted that the deal with Brazil means that they will have some involvement in London 2012.

"This is great news for London," said London Development Agency chief executive Peter Rogers.

"By coming to Crystal Palace, Brazil's Olympians will enjoy some of the best sporting facilities in Britain as they prepare for London 2012.

"The London Development Agency has invested over £17 million ($28 million) bringing the National Sports Centre up to modern international standards.

"This investment is now being enjoyed by world class athletes and the local community alike."

Further preparation camps are also already being planned between GLL and the Brazilian Olympic Committee for 2011 and beyond 2012.

"This is a fantastic opportunity to embrace the Olympic message in the local community as well as to forge international links with the host nation for 2016," said Peter Bundey, the GLL director.

"We are confident that Crystal Palace will deliver the ideal base for Brazil's top class athletes."