Fans turn to Twitter to search for Olympic tickets

By Eliza Mackintosh

Olympic Stadium, site of the track and field events (AFP PHOTO / JEWEL SAMAD)

After outrage erupted over swaths of empty seats at Olympic events earlier this week organizers scrambled to put more tickets on sale.

Meanwhile, a flurry of activity began on Twitter, when an account unaffiliated with the Olympic organizing body LOCOG began posting updates on ticket availability.

In an effort to help people searching for tickets, Adam Naisbitt, a technology entrepreneur from the UK, wrote a computer program to monitor the Olympic ticket site for offerings. The project began in hopes of finding his fiancé tickets to gymnastics events, but developed into a Twitter feed called @2012TicketAlert, which has been followed by thousands.

Naisbitt’s Twitter account gained the attention of LOCOG itself, who have now limited access to their server. A London 2012 spokesman said that it blocked all computerized polling of its ticketing site, according to the BBC.

Naisbitt says he feels “shocked” by LOCOG’s reaction, given the apparent issues with ticket purchasing.

Many members of the public still hopeful to get their hands on some of the few remaining tickets greeted the Twitter feed with praise. After having little luck on LOCOG’s website, Twitter users like Ashley Hope posted messages thanking @2012TicketAlert: “If it wasn’t for @2012TicketAlert I wouldn’t be going to the Olympic Stadium next week. #OnceInALifetime #OlympicFever @London2012″

Naisbitt reported hundreds of messages like these from Twitter users who were able to get tickets by using his alert system: “Wow – thank you all for your kind words, that was an amazing experience. Let’s hope LOCOG take note – you guys are all medal worthy!” he wrote on Twitter.

Those who had tried to use the official ticketing site reported hours of searching through events resulted in finding that sessions that appeared available in fact were not. The process has been satirized by BuzzFeed as a “soul-destroying experience.”