Location: Athens, Torino, Beijing, London, Sochi, Rio de Janeiro
All Olympic Sports fans know it. Before you can take your seat, there is a journey of several years. Planning, preparing, getting lucky with tickets, travelling etc.
We also know the rush feeling to get on time to the stadium. Finding your ticket again. Where was it? Going through security checks and ticket checks. Finding the right entrance gate, being checked once more for your ticket and then, yes then, getting to your seats. Pfff.
That moment when you sit down for your first event after 4 years of waiting is emotional. You did it again and are present at yet another Olympics.
I must confess something though. The description here is fully right. And yet sometimes also fully wrong. We did not always sit on our seats. Not that we could not find it. Sometimes we struggled but with the help of the fantastic volunteers you always get there.
No, sometimes we looked around in the stadium from our rightful seat and thought, damn, we sit on the other side of the stadium when it comes to the high jump. Or the judo mat where Henk Grol will be performing. Sometimes we even thought; “There, at the finish line, there is hardly anyone seated! What a shame. And what a place to sit!”.
Ok, I have to confess more. I apologize to the Olympic Movement. It’s my 12-year-old self that sometimes takes over. I also have a ‘complicit’ in the shape of my fellow Olympic traveller. We were not always seated at our own seat.
A few examples. I also lay-out some of the strategies that we used. All of them which will now be pointless to try since the IOC will take more measures after this, I’m sure.
This is how it works…eh worked for us:
1)Get to your rightful seat on time. Check out the full stadium, the location of the events (in case of the Athletics). Check out, the best place with regards to what you want, the best overview, the best ambiance, the closest to the pitch etc. This of course fully depends on your wishes.
2)Pick your aimed seat. Not necessarily the exact seat. A section will do for now.
3)Decide what you are going to do. And decide on the moment to do so. Best moment that we experienced is to wait for a long time, just before the event starts.
4)Walk to the section of your choice and check it out. Remember not to get noticed too much. You must appear at ease like you are going to your rightful seat.
5)Pick your strategy.
6)Pick your exact timing to launch your reseating action.
7)After getting into the right section (I will explain some examples of point 5 and 6); seek for the best area but still with quite a few open seats. Remain confident and walk to your newly chosen chairs.
8)During a break in the event, have a chat with the volunteer that is doing the ticket control at your gate. Ask his or her name and enjoy the conversation (we always did).
9)Enjoy the event.
10)Check out already alternative seats in case of point 11.
11) In case of fans proclaiming your seats; apologize, look puzzled and go for those alternative seats. This only after checking shortly your ticket.
12)Repeat 10 and if necessary, point 11.
13)Wish the volunteers at your exit a fantastic evening and in case of a repeat strategy the next evening say that you’ll meet them again tomorrow!
So, what’s the trick on point 5 and 6? How do you surpass the extensive ticket checks at the entrance of the sections of the stadium?
Well, a few examples:
1)Get your hands full.
With one or (better) two drinks. Place a few straps with some plastic badges around your neck. And go for it as soon as it is very crowded. Nod to your two beers when you pass like you want to say; “I want to show it, but I can’t right now, will be back!”.
2)Do the magician finger trick
Again, you wait until its very crowded; you get your tickets, but you place one or two fingers over your own section; but clearly showing the event you are attending.
3)You follow a group of fans that are invited by a sponsor. You can clearly recognize them. They apathy walk behind somebody holding a stick with the name of the sponsor. Often, they don’t have a clue where they are or what they will be seeing. Join them when they enter the section.
4)If you see fellow countrymen walking out of your beloved section; speak with them. Get them onboard of your plans. Often when it comes to finals the beauty is to see it with more fans from your home country. Especially if your country is in that final! If that person is onboard, he goes in again at his section, with the aim to get a few tickets from his friends. He or she goes out again, handing you those tickets and you get in where you give the tickets back.
There are more, but I must keep a few to myself, otherwise I will be seeing you all in my favourite section in Tokyo;)
So, easy does it, not? Well. I must lay-out a few disclaimers. It doesn’t work always. We know from experience. But we had a lot of fun in trying. We always respected the volunteers and always followed their instructions when given. We did however saw so many times that businesspeople did not show up for the most spectacular events. And they often have the best seats. So, you can identify our behaviour as silent protest against the overinfluence of sponsors and businesspeople not respecting the basis; if you have a ticket to an event; you show up. Others would sometimes give an arm for those tickets. In Rio’16 this was mostly visible in the stadiums where big parts sometimes were only half empty.
And, not to spoil the party. For Tokyo2020 I expect that all above will anyhow not be very feasible. The best Games where it worked were Rio (no surprise I guess) and Beijing. The latter especially due to the language barrier. The Japanese are in a different league I bet.
So, that leaves me to my newest strategy for Tokyo2020; if anyone from any business is invited to Tokyo, has unique seats to the most wanted events, but cannot join, please leave me a message and I can help you out 😊