By JOHN PYE -- Associated Press
SYDNEY, Australia -- Sydney 2000 Olympics organizers are showing they've learned from their mistakes -- at least in terms of ticketing.
Olympics Minister Michael Knight has scrapped plans to sell Super Tickets for the Sept. 15-Oct. 1 games, saying instead that the 75,000 A-category tickets would be made available at list price to ordinary Australians.
Public confidence in organizers plummeted last year following revelations of a proposed secret scheme devised to siphon off top tickets for corporate bigwigs.
"When I think back to the way the premium ticket packages soured the whole public feeling about ticketing, I don't want to see that happen again," Knight told Australian Broadcasting Corp radio.
"While doing it this way foregoes a few extra million (dollars), that we could have got by hawking to the rich at inflated prices, it would just undermine," growing enthusiasm within Australia for the games, he added.
Knight said organizers had worked hard at re-establishing a credible ticket sales scheme and introducing Super Tickets three weeks before the games begin would jeopardize sales.
"I really want to get those tickets out to average Australians," he said.
Knight, who is in charge of the Games Time Commission that is running the Sydney Olympics, said there was still about 1.75 million tickets available, including the 75,000 quarantined from the failed Premium ticket scheme.
Last year, when details of the premium ticket scheme were revealed, the general public could only acquire seats by entering an oversubscribed Olympic ticket ballot.
Compounding the situation, thousands of unsuccessful applicants were then forced to wait months after the ballot for a refund because their refund checks were mistakenly not printed.
Tickets are now available over the internet, via telephone call centers and at the box office.
Knight announced Wednesday that the A-category tickets for track and field, basketball, gymnastics and the men's soccer final would be released next week through box office and telephone call centers, but not over the internet.
He said 13,700 A-category tickets to artistic gymnastics, 13,000 for basketball finals sessions and 3,000 for the men's soccer final would go on sale next Tuesday.
About 6,000 track and field tickets for evening sessions will go on sale Thursday, although buyers will have to purchase the A-category tickets in a package with tickets for morning sessions.
"We've sold a lot of tickets but still got a lot left to all sorts of events," Knight said. "Ticket sales are really starting to pick up now that the games are getting closer."