From the Olympics to Euro 2016: how to attend the top sporting events

Whether you fancy a trip to Rio or something closer to home, here is our indispensable guide to securing the most sought-after tickets of 2016


Rio de Janeiro, starts 5 August & 7 September

A long old trek but, well, these are the Games and it’s not too late to be part of what is always an exceptional experience in live sport – the very best in the world, facing off for the highest honour. The first three ticketing phases are already complete but the official ticket seller for both the Olympics and Paralympics,, will reopen individual ticket sales on 7 January on a first-come first-served basis. They will also offer any further tickets as and when released by the organising committee – check the website regularly for details and sign up for an account to be notified when large blocks are announced. Alternatively the company is also currently selling ticket and hotel packages. The cheapest begins at around £1,900 per person but this is based on a double occupancy – the same deal for a single is £3,200 and this is for attending pre-determined events, some of which present unlikely pairings, such as water polo and basketball. More attractive are the Flex packages allowing fans to select their disciplines. The best at the lower end (all per person for a double) covers four events from 15-18 August and is £3,350. Prices then range upwards including premier packages that include transport to and from venues (many of which are now sold out) up to a six-event Flex deal at £7,890.

Individual tickets for the Paralympics are on sale now and are a bargain. Medal events at, for example, the athletics can be purchased for as little as £8.20; category A at the swimming for £15 and the wheelchair rugby final for £13. Equally, double hotel-ticket Flex packages for four events can be had for £885 per person.

The final requirement is of course the flight, for which non-stop London to Rio options are still available, coming in at around £1,200 in economy – but only one a day. Stopover options are more frequent and cheaper but do check, as some of them take an awfully long time to reach Brazil. All of which requires a considerable financial commitment but there are plenty of pre-Games events to enjoy closer to home:

Athletics Enjoy Team GB’s athletes in action before they set off for Brazil, beginning with the Glasgow Indoor Grand Prix (20 February) which is followed by the Indoor British Championships in Sheffield (27-28 February). The IAAF Diamond League also visits the Birmingham Alexander stadium on 5 June and the first of two real stand-out events is at the same venue. The British Championships (24-26 June) are also the Olympic trials, presenting a chance to see the athletes book their place at the Games,while the final chance to see the team is the London Anniversary Games (22-24 July). Usain Bolt is set to compete at the event in the London Olympic stadium, which is also a Diamond League meeting on the Friday and Saturday with Sunday presenting the world’s best paralympians in the IPC Grand Final. Tickets are still available for all the above from

Swimming The London 2012 pool is back in action pre-Rio, with the European Aquatics Championship (includes swimming, synchronised swimming and diving, 9-22 May) hosted at the aquatics centre in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. This will be the biggest event held at the venue since the London Games and is also the last chance to see Europe’s top athletes before Rio. Great Britain will have selected its squad in April and the full team will be in action at the meeting. Tickets are still available and well priced, with over two-thirds at under £30 from

Hockey Having won bronze in 2012, Team GB’s women return to the venue that threw up so many thrilling encounters as host of the Champions Trophy at the Lee Valley Hockey centre (18-26 June). It is a round-robin tournament that features the best teams in the world. 2012’s gold medal winners, the Netherlands, join 2015’s World League winners, Argentina, and the USA, who were 2014 Champions Challenge winners, alongside two more sides yet to be announced. Tickets for the GB games are available now and each day includes at least two if not three matches, from

Sailing Another 2012 venue is revisited for the ISAF World Cup event at Weymouth and Portland (10-14 June). This last major competition before the Games will attract the best sailors from around the world and all of Team GB’s crews will be performing. The selection will be completed by Easter but already confirmed are Giles Scott, unbeaten in two years and winner of the World Championships, who is dominant in the Finn class that Ben Ainslie made his own, and Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark, who won silver at the last Games. The venue will be open for free before the weekend and tickets for the final two days will be available from nearer the time.

In a sport new to the Games this year the perfect opportunity to see the leading teams in action comes with the climax of the HSBC Sevens Series at Twickenham (21-22 May). Again the final major tournament before Rio, it will be a fine chance to see who is hitting form and a great day out to boot. Ireland and Italy are the only major rugby-playing nations not competing and there are full weekend tickets on offer now, reasonably priced between £40 and £50 from ticketmaster.

Triathlon Another very strong GB challenge featuring Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee, Non Stanford and Vicky Holland will be putting in their final home display at the fifth round of the ITU World Traithlon Series (11-12 June) in Leeds. Set across Olympic distance on a technical, city centre-based bike course and a swim in Roundhay Park, it will be a great chance to turn up and watch the world’s best starting to hit their peak four weeks before the Games.

Boxing Five medals, including three golds, was some achievement for GB’s boxing team in London but watching form for 2016 will be tricky. Especially for the women, since all the qualifiers are abroad, including the final major event – the World Championships in Kazakhstan (6-18 May) – but there is a chance to see the men in action competing in the World Series of Boxing as part of the British Lionhearts. They will be competing at York Hall in London, against the Mexico Guerreros (18 Feb), the USA Knockouts (3 March) and the Morocco Atlas Lions (17 March). For details check @Brit_Lionhearts.

Euro 2016, starts 10 June

The ticket application process for teams that have qualified is now open and the deadline for submitting requests for the 800,000 seats available is 11am on 18 January. They are not first-come first-served so all applicants will have an equal chance having entered at For fans of England (up to four tickets per match) and Wales (two per match) they must be members of their respective supporters’ clubs. Republic of Ireland (four per match) and Northern Ireland (two per match) fans are not required to be members of a supporters’ club. Notification of allocation will be made by February and in March Uefa will open a resale portal for unwanted tickets.

Summer series, starts 19 May

Sri Lanka and Pakistan take on what is looking like a resurgent England, with the former facing three Tests at Headingley, Durham and Lord’s, while Pakistan are guests for four Tests at Lord’s, Old Trafford, Edgbaston and The Oval. Both teams will also contest five ODIs and one T20. Tickets are available for all matches at The Oval Test has few left and Lord’s is subject to the usual ballot which is open until 6 January.

Alternatively Take a holiday as the T20 World Cup is in India and finally the BCCI has announced fixtures, with the major teams beginning the group stages on 15 March and England opening the next day against West Indies.

The Open, starts 14 July

Now no longer on the BBC, what better excuse is there to attend an event that is all the more thrilling in person? Royal Troon is a magnificent course and ticket prices are lower than last year, £60 for a day and £230 for the week-long pass at Golf is also now an Olympic sport and, with qualification settled on 11 July, the Rio-bound players will all be here.

Alternatively Equally unmissable is the Ryder Cup (30 Sept) but outside package deals it is long sold out. So how about an Olympic form guide for the Women at the British Open in Woburn (28 July), the final Major before the Games –

Tour de France starts 2 July

Only seven riders have won the Tour three times or more and Chris Froome attempts to join them on a course he believes will suit him more than last year’s. Make a base with friends and rent a chalet in Chamonix to take in the last week’s Alps stages (20-23 July). Turn up early for a spot and come prepared – either searing sunshine or snow might appear in the mountains (

Alternatively Team GB return to the London Olympics Lee Valley Velopark to prepare for Rio at the UCI Track Cycling World Championships (2 March). A hugely popular event but some tickets are still available at

Davis Cup, starts 4 March

Great Britain begin the defence of their first title since 1936 at the Birmingham Arena against Japan, only the second time the two teams have met – the previous encounter being in 1931 when Fred Perry and Bunny Austin led a 5-0 win. Kazakhstan or Serbia await in the quarter-finals and, although most courtside seats are sold out, others are still available at


Le Mans 24 Hours, starts 18 June

Formula One may be tying itself in knots of rules and financial in-fighting but the World Endurance Championship, of which Le Mans is the main event, is going from strength to strength. A motor race like no other in a unique atmosphere of 260,000 fans, many camping on site, it is an event every petrolhead should do at least once. General entry tickets are £57 and camping in the Beausejour site is also still available at


Giles Richards

The GuardianTramp

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