Fans desperate to get ahold of tickets for this summer's Olympic Games in London are capitalizing on a bizarre loophole in order to find seats for showcase events.
With the allocations for spectators in England and the United States having been swallowed up in record time, enterprising fans are flying to Spain – where tickets for even the most popular events are still available.
Each national Olympic committee decides how its ticket allocation should be distributed, with most countries opting for either an Internet-based or mail-application system.
However, in a bid to ensure that most of its tickets went to Spanish residents, Spain decided that its allotment would be sold over the counter in 20 branches of a well-known book and music store, FNAC.
"It was our choice to sell them through FNAC because we felt that was the best way for normal Spanish fans to buy the tickets they wanted," a Spanish Olympic Committee spokesman said.
Yahoo! Sports telephoned several FNAC stores Monday and Tuesday and were told that multiple tickets were still available, but that they could not be reserved and had to be collected in person.
"The interest has not been strong," said a man who identified himself as the manager at FNAC's Marbella store. "But we have noticed people from England coming in to ask about tickets and buying them. Several people told us they had flown here especially to buy tickets."
While flying from England to Spain is a short and relatively inexpensive trip, the same cannot be said of the journey from the East Coast of the United States.
However, that did not stop one American Olympics fanatic from making the trip to ensure he will be in the thick of the action in London this August.
The fan, who asked not to be named "because I told work I was ill" and also because he was unsure whether he had flouted regulations by buying tickets meant for Spaniards, embarked on an 19-hour trip from Charlotte, N.C., to Malaga, by way of Washington D.C. and Madrid.
"When I got to Madrid it was the weekend and the shop was closed," said the fan in a telephone conversation. "I had heard that there were definitely tickets available in Malaga, so I got an internal flight right away and was waiting outside the store when it opened on Monday morning."
Potential Olympic spectators have despaired about the lack of ticket availability through normal channels. In the United Kingdom, fans were left frustrated by a controversial and heavily criticized ballot system, while a website set up to release resales crashed on its first day and eventually was shut down.
Americans can purchase tickets through a website run by the Cosport agency, which also handles online ticket sales to countries such as Australia, Canada, Norway and Bulgaria. However, by this stage, all of Cosport's tickets for swimming, soccer, gymnastics and cycling have already been snapped up.
The tickets available on Cosport as of Tuesday afternoon ranged from a B-category seat at the Canoe Slalom preliminaries for $98 to $663 for the men's basketball bronze-medal game. Track-and-field sessions typically were going for $608.
The U.S. Olympic Committee could not be immediately reached for comment.
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