By Julia Dias Carneiro
The Olympic Stadium will be the centrepiece of the 2012 Games
Rio de Janeiro is the next city to host the Olympics after London, but those in Brazil who wanted a taste of what's coming up in 2016 had a tough week, as ticket sales for 2012 via the local authorised agency didn't work for the first few days.
After many attempts, our reporter in the city managed to buy her first ever Olympic tickets - or so she thought. Here is her diary (all times Brazilian local).
Monday, 14 March, 1800: I phone the agency a day in advance to understand how the process for buying tickets for London's 2012 Olympic Games will work. Tourism agency Tamoyo y Turismo plans to have its online system up and running at 0900 on Tuesday, launching sales on the same day as the UK. The London Organising Committee (Locog) says up to a million tickets will be distributed for sale outside of the European Union.
Tuesday, 15 March, 1000: I access the website [www.tamoyo.com.br] ready to make my first purchase, worried that I'm already an hour late and that many tickets may already have been sold. But the sales system is unavailable. I go back every hour, to no avail.
Tuesday, 15 March, 1600: The website shows a new message stating that "the system is being updated" and ticket sales will be available "soon". I call the agency and speak to its director, Antonio Carlos Valente. He says there was a problem with the payment system and his company is racing against time to solve it. I learn that Tamoyo, an agency specialising in large sports events, has been selling tickets for Olympic Games since Sydney 2000. Brazil's ticket-buying contingent has grown significantly since then, Valente says, together with the public's interest in the Olympic Games. His expectations this year are big, since it's Rio's turn after London. Locog has been more generous with the amount of tickets allocated to the Brazilian public than is required, but he doesn't reveal specific numbers. The website remains unavailable until the end of the day.
Wednesday, 16 March, 0900: Things haven't progressed, and I go back to the website every once in a while to check. At 1600, I call the agency in downtown Rio. Valente is in a meeting, but one of his assistants tells me they will have the system running by the end of the day. I go to sleep ticketless.
Thursday, 17 March, 1100: With hopes a bit down, I proceed with my routine check. Still not working.
Thursday, 17 March, 1140: It works! A link says "access our tickets portal" and leads the way to a page with very few elements, starting with a field to choose date and sport type. Exciting. Prices are almost the same as in London, converted to Brazilian reais and increased by 4%, the service rate charged by the agency. The system is seemingly simple, but proves quite confusing. After some dead ends and restarts, I manage to select two quarter-final tickets for male volleyball. From here on, things go smoothly - I type in my personal information and a bill with a barcode is generated. Now I have to pay for it. Luckily I have an account with the one bank they work with, so I can proceed.
Thursday, 17 March, 2200: Back home from work, I log into my online bank account to pay for the ticket. This is a very important step: Valente explained that payment must be processed on the same day that the ticket is "reserved", or else the request will be dropped. I type in the barcode number, but the system says one of the digits is invalid. I check and recheck, but everything's there. No tickets! So I go back to Tamoyo's website to start all over again. But by this stage, each and every one of the events is showing "sold out". Did Brazilians flock to buy all their tickets during the day? Hardly. The system will probably be working again tomorrow. But I'm not sure I'll try again.
Friday, 18 March, 0000: I go to sleep ticketless, dreaming of more efficiency for 2016.