Olympic anniversary athletics event sells out in 75 minutes

Grand Prix featuring stars of London 2012 Games sparks rush for tickets amid complaints about booking system

Tickets for the two-day Grand Prix athletics event at the Olympic Stadium, featuring many of the stars of London 2012, have sold out in 75 minutes amid complaints that the website could not cope with demand.

On the day that the public accounts committee queried whether the enthusiasm generated by the Games was in danger of "fizzling out", the stampede for tickets suggested that the public at least wanted to recapture the feeling of watching the likes of Mo Farah, Jessica Ennis and Usain Bolt in action.

The 65,000 tickets for each day of competition, on 26 and 27 July, were made available to those who had pre-registered through the British Athletics website. The event, named the Sainsbury's Anniversary Games, will mark exactly one year since the London 2012 opening ceremony.

Organisers insisted the website had not crashed but had slowed to a crawl amid huge demand for tickets that is likely to have left many would-be purchasers disappointed – another echo of the Olympics.

Tickets remain available for the IPC International Challenge, featuring 14 of Britain's 16 Paralympic medallists, on Sunday 28 July.

British Athletics sees the event as crucial in maintaining the enthusiasm for the sport engendered by the Games and the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) hopes that it will showcase how the redevelopment of the park is progressing.

The event is likely to be the only time that the stadium is filled to capacity this summer, after the LLDC admitted this week it was unlikely to hold any pop concerts there before closing it for almost three years for redevelopment.

It will reopen in 2016 after a £160m refit as a multi-sport venue suitable for both football and athletics, with West Ham due to move in as the main tenant. UK Athletics will be able to use the stadium for 20 days a year and the athletics world championships is due to be held there in 2017.

Bolt will make more than £20,000 a second when he returns to London this summer.

The Jamaican is understood to be receiving his standard Diamond League fee of around $300,000 a race to appear in the 100m and the 4x100m on the track where he won three gold medals last year.

The chancellor agreed in last month's budget to a one-off exemption allowing Bolt and other international athletes appearing at the event to avoid tax rules that, said his agent, would have meant Bolt was in effect paying to compete.

The tax break, as well as the likelihood of selling out all three days of competition, has enabled organisers to assemble a lineup including 29 Olympic medal-winners, 12 world champions and four world record holders.

Other overseas star names include the 100m hurdles Olympic champion Sally Pearson, sprinter Carmelita Jeter and men's 400m champion Kirani James. The women's 400m gold medallist Sanya Richards-Ross will renew her rivalry with Christine Ohuruogu, whom she beat into second place at the London Games.

UK Athletics has signed up all five British track and field medallists, including Farah, Ennis and Greg Rutherford, for the London Grand Prix. Fourteen of Great Britain's 16 Paralympic medallists have also signed up, with the notable exceptions of David Weir and Hannah Cockroft.


Owen Gibson, chief sports correspondent

The GuardianTramp

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