Plan ahead for visit to London in 2012

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London 2012 Stadium

London 2012 Stadium

You yawned at the royal wedding in April. You were happy to miss the riots in August. But you’re determined to be a part of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

This means either making a 80-metre discus throw, pronto, or studying up fast on the ticket, transport and hotel situation. The Games are July 27-Aug. 12. The Paralympic Games follow, Aug. 29-Sept. 9.

The hub of the action is Stratford, about 13 kilometres northeast of Big Ben and central London (and not to be confused with the Shakespearean tourist town of Stratford-Upon-Avon).

When I visited in February, work was well along, and the area was crawling with heavy equipment. By the end of July, officials said construction had been completed on all six major venues in the new 200-hectare Olympic Park: an 80,000-seat Olympic Stadium, an aquatics centre, a velodrome, a handball arena, a basketball arena and a broadcast center. The park’s athletes’ village will house about 17,000 competitors and officials.

Many of the 302 events (in 34 venues) will take place at familiar Londonarea landmarks: soccer at Wembley Stadium, tennis at Wimbledon, archery at Lord’s Cricket Ground, road cycling in Regent’s Park and latter-round basketball at North Greenwich Arena.

For details on just about every aspect of the Games, go to

During the Games, officials say they expect as many as 200,000 visitors a day within Olympic Park.

Between events, many will head next door to the vast Westfield Stratford City mall, which opened Sept. 13 with 1.9 million square feet of retail space, a casino, bowling, a 17-screen cinema and two hotels. Overall, tourism officials say Britain, which had about 30 million international visitors in 2010, is likely to draw an extra 900,000 or so in 2012 because of the Olympics.

Getting there: It’s not just the Olympics that make this a tough airfare; it’s the usual summer jump in prices. A Dec. 22 search for Victoria-London Heathrow (through Vancouver) on the Air Canada website showed the lowest available roundtrip fare (taxes included) at $1,915 for a June 26 flight (returning a week later); $1,975 for a July 26 flight; and $1,632 for an Aug. 26 flight.

Getting in: There are said to be 8.8 million Olympics tickets and two million more for the Paralympics, but many events are sold out. (Tickets went on sale early this year.) There might be a chance at tickets not yet sold, but no guarantees. If so, officials say it would probably come in the next few weeks or in early 2012. Meanwhile, there might be a way to get tickets, especially if your pockets are deep.

The name to know is CoSport. The Canadian Olympic Committee has given the company exclusive rights to sell tickets and ticket packages by phone and Internet in Canada. The CoSport website,, will have up-to-date info on additional ticket releases, and consumers can sign up to receive updates. CoSport’s toll-free line: (877) 457-4647.

Though it doesn’t have individual tickets, CoSport is selling multiple-event packages, sometimes including hotel stays, at prices that may terrify Olympic amateurs. These sales, which began in early 2011, will end two months before the Games or when the supply is exhausted, whichever comes first.

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