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Olympic ticket sales begin

But it won’t be first-come, first-served

VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Ticket sales start today for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics and aren’t first-come, first-served.

Instead, they will be available for five weeks through an online process designed to thwart scalpers trying to snap up tickets to the best events.

“There are people that are experts at getting to the front of the line and they make a living doing that,” Caley Denton, vice president of ticketing for the Vancouver organizing committee for the 2010 Olympics, said Thursday.

“We have a built-in reason why that’s not important. It’s not a race.”

The organizing committee will accept applications for tickets between today and Nov. 7, submitted either online at or through a paper application available by phone.

There won’t be any decision on who gets which tickets until after the deadline for applications.

“It’s about taking your time and planning your experience,” Denton said of the five-week process.

If there is more demand for an event than there are seats, a lottery will be held.

People who apply for tickets will be notified in late November or early December if their application is successful.

Around 1.6 million tickets will be available to the public, representing 70 percent of the overall tickets being sold, with prices ranging from $25 for some Nordic events, to $1,100 for the opening ceremonies.

That doesn’t include service charges, taxes or delivery fees, which could bump the cost of an individual ticket up as much as $28.

The cost of transportation to the mountain venues outside Vancouver also isn’t included, although the service charge will give spectators access to public transit.

The remaining 30 percent of the tickets have been sold to the so-called Olympic family – sponsors, Olympic committees and other partners of the Olympic Games.

Altogether, the Olympic family will buy up as much as 70 percent of the tickets to the highest-profile events at the Olympics, making already scarce tickets to gold-medal hockey or the opening ceremonies that much harder to come by for the general public.