Most Expensive Olympic Events To Attend
It's the first rule of the marketplace - scarcity equals value. So, when an organization is tasked with holding an event of worldwide importance, one that occurs only every four years, tickets to said event are going to range from costly to stratospherically so. These are the sports that'll cost you the most to see at the London 2012 Olympic Games. The opening ceremony isn't technically a sport, but watching it live requires a big financial outlay just the same. The opening ceremony represents the one instance where your country is guaranteed its share of attention - at least for as long as it takes your nation's athletes to enter Stratford's Olympic Stadium and assemble. Seats in the highest price range for the opening ceremonies retailed for more than the per capita income of some of the Games' less developed countries - roughly $3,100.
With all due respect to Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps, the largest concentration of famous and marketable athletes at these Olympics is the USA men's basketball team. To many observers, the gold medal for LeBron James, Kobe Bryant et al. is something of a foregone conclusion. To others, an up-and-coming Spanish team with its own roster of NBA stars could give the favored Americans a formidable challenge. Just about every single matchup of the tournament sold out well in advance. When the Olympics began, the only game for which tickets remained available was what promised to be the most anticlimactic game of the tournament: the bronze medal matchup. Tickets for that maxed out at $510, while tickets for the gold medal game officially sold for as much as $667. But again, that game sold out forever ago. Go to an Internet scalper, and you can expect to pay over $2,000 to see the gold medal game.
Perhaps the purest and most intense sport of the Olympics is boxing. At this level, the amateur game features three-round bouts with little of the corruption that plagues its professional counterpart. Theoretically, it's a chance to see an incipient Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard or Oscar De La Hoya before he gets famous and rich. On the penultimate day of the boxing competition, fans can watch the gold medal matches for half the weight classes - light fly, bantam, light welter, middle and heavy. Or they can attend the following day and watch the other half - fly, light, welter, light heavy and super heavy. The priciest tickets for either of the final two days of competition cost around $620.
Along with track and field, swimming represents your best chance to see history made in an instant. In terms of sheer volume, swimming overwhelms most of the other sports. With four different styles, over as many as five distances, plus two individual medleys, three relays and a marathon - for both male and female - that adds up to no fewer than 34 different events. Most swimming events require a two-day session. Discounting the heats, that leaves eight different days of competition on which swimmers will earn medals. For any of those sessions, the best seats will cost you a cool $706.
Maybe the biggest surprise on the list of expensive Olympic events is beach volleyball. It's one of the most recent additions to the Olympic lineup, and with the demise of baseball and softball, one of the few Olympic sports of American origin. London not being much of a seaside destination, the beach volleyball competition is held at, of all places, Horse Guards Parade. It's the same ground in central London where King Henry VIII watched jousting tournaments and Queen Elizabeth (the original 16th century one, not her modern successor) used to celebrate her birthday. Tickets for both the men's and women's finals cost about $706, and the scantily clad competitors will doubtless be glad to know that average early August temperatures in London at that time of night hover in the mid-60s. If you're going, dress accordingly.
Track And Field
Just as it was back in 1896 and the original eighth century B.C. Olympics, the most plentiful and popular events are in track and field. The signature competition on the track and field schedule is the men's 100-meter dash. This year the preliminary rounds sold out before the following day's semifinal/final session did. Granted, tickets for the preliminaries are of course less expensive than for the finals. For the best available seats at Stratford's Olympic Stadium, spectators paid a staggering $1,100 to see Usain Bolt win gold.
For some, the Olympics represent the ultimate in "I was there" one-upmanship. For others, it's simply a chance to see some of the world's greatest athletes compete. Either way, attending the events in person is for those both devoted and with disposable income.