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June 16, 2000
Sydney box office opens with trickle

 SYDNEY, Australia (AP) -- Opening day was slow at the box office for the Sydney Olympics.

 With 91 days until the Sept. 15 opening ceremony and about 2.7 million tickets yet to sell, Sydney organizers had counted on a heavy turnout Friday with the opening of the first box office in which customers can step to the window and buy Olympic tickets.

 But only a dozen people lined up for tickets early Friday, with a Norwegian tourist clutching the first ticket issued over the counter.

 Johnny Anderssen, 35, handed over $326 for seven tickets to sports, including basketball and soccer, and was presented with the blue and yellow tickets featuring the logos of the Olympics and Sydney Games.

 "I was here at 7 a.m. and I was very surprised there wasn't any more people here," he said. "I thought I was in the wrong place because there was no one else.

 "If this had been in Scandinavia, you would have a line of people sleeping outside for two or three days, so I was very surprised."

 People who purchased tickets through the first ballot last year or by newspaper coupons were still waiting to have their souvenir tickets hand-delivered by a distribution firm.

 Other box offices were expected to open next week at Olympic Park in Homebush Bay and also at Newcastle, Wollongong and the interstate capitals of Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide.

 Glen-Marie Frost, the SOCOG general manager for communications, said she had not anticipated a massive rush Friday despite the fact "we've been waiting a long time to actually get that ticket for the Games in our hands."

 She said the trickle of customers didn't indicate a lack of public interest but highlighted the need for SOCOG to generate more publicity about the volume of tickets still up for sale.

 "I think Australians understand the box office," Frost said. "They like going to a counter and saying, 'Where are my seats going to be?' and walking away with something in their hand."

 No official sales figures were released at the close of business Friday.

 SOCOG needs to raise another $91.3 million from the sale of tickets to meet its ticketing budget.

 Internet sales begin next week and the tickets are also on sale by a telephone hot line.
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