A five-year-planning process is being put to the test today as tickets for the 2010 Olympic Games are finally on sale on the Vancouver 2010 website.   

Roughly 1.6 million first phase tickets are up for grabs and requests, via paper or e-mail, will be accepted until November 7th.

Sales aren't first-come, first-served, but are taking place over a five-week period and mostly online.

The price of tickets ranges from $25 to more than $1,000, not including service and delivery charges. Half of all tickets will be priced at $100 or less.

Olympic Experience ticket packages are also available.

Olympic organizers are confident the mostly-online sales process will defeat scalpers while offering Olympic fans a fair shot at all of the premiere events.

Service fees to be added to the base price include access to public transit but the cost of a seat on a bus to Nordic events in Whistler, B.C., will be extra.

Vancouver/>/>'s Olympic Organizing Committee (VANOC) expects to collect more than $230 million from ticket sales.

First phase for five weeks

The "first-phase" tickets will be offered until Nov. 7. But VANOC is advising the public to take their time, look at the schedule and consider which events they want to see.

"A request submitted on October 3 will be considered the same as a request submitted November 7," according to the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC) website.

Olympic officials are hoping the application process will cut down on ticket scalping.

"The whole system has been built around fairness and accessibility," Caley Denton, VANOC vice-president of ticketing and consumer marketing, told CTV's Canada AM from Vancouver on Friday.

However, there's little VANOC will be able to do about a secondary ticket market. Unofficial ticket brokers have told CTV British Columbia they're planning on buying and selling Olympic tickets. One broker recommended that consumers make sure they deal with a reputable agency to avoid potential problems.

Denton noted that demand will be high for tickets in traditionally popular Canadian sports, but said most visitors to the Games will go for the overall experience.

"Canadians are really embracing the idea of having that Olympic experience, of course by going to hockey and figure skating ... but also seeing sports they don't see every day."

At the end of the five-week period, VANOC will tally up all the orders. If demand exceeds availibility for certain events, tickets will be awarded by a lottery system.

VANOC also said it will release tickets in phases during the sales period so those who don't get tickets in the first round can apply again.

To avoid empty seats in high-demand sections, the tickets will be awarded by lottery to hopeful buyers.

Ticket allocation

VANOC said 70 per cent of the 2010 tickets will be reserved for the public and 30 per cent for the "Olympic family" -- which includes National Olympic Committees, sponsors, media and broadcasters, and athletes and their families.

But for high-demand events, such as the hockey finals, the goal is to have at least 30 per cent of tickets available for the public. Hockey games account for 30 per cent of all ticket sales.

Organizers say the ticket ordering system at www.vancouver2010.com has been vigorously tested and will be able to withstand the expected pressure of hundreds of people logging in to buy.

The 2010 Winter Games will take place in Vancouver and Whistler, from Feb. 12 to Feb. 28. The Paralympic Games will follow from March 12 to 21.

Extra transportation during Games

B.C. Ferries announced Thursday it will put on extra sailings during the 2010 Olympics to handle the extra demand, including a 6 a.m. sailing from Swartz Bay to Tsawwassen and a return trip at midnight.

Ferries president David Hahn says the extra sailings will give customers confidence they can get to the events on time while being able to return home at the end of the day.

2010 Olympic ticket fees by the numbers

  • $25: cost of round-trip ticket on spectator bus between Vancouver and Whistler, B.C., host of the Nordic events for the Games.
  • $20: cost of having a ticket order of more than $100 delivered.
  • $18: highest ticket surcharge. It includes access to public transit and administration fees.
  • $12: cost of round-trip ticket on spectator bus between Vancouver and Cypress Mountain, home of snowboarding and freestyle skiing.
  • $10: cost of having a ticket order of less than $100 delivered.
  • $10: average ticket surcharge. Surcharges are being applied on a sliding scale depending on the cost of the ticket.
  • $4: lowest fee being levied as a surcharge. All tickets $30 or less will be charged this fee.
  • $775: most expensive ticket for the men's gold medal hockey game.

2010 Olympic ticket facts

  • 1.6 million tickets will be available to the public.
  • 50 per cent cost less than $100.
  • The most expensive ticket is $1,100 for a seat at the opening ceremonies.
  • The cheapest event ticket is $25 for preliminary rounds of cross-country skiing and biathlon.
  • The most expensive ticket for the men's gold medal hockey game is $775.
  • Tickets to the nightly victory ceremonies will be $22, but a third of them will be given away for free.
  • Visa is the only payment card accepted
  • Some cheques and money orders will be accepted
  • Cash will not be accepted as payment for tickets during Phase 1

Visit vancouver2010.com or call the Vancouver 2010 ticket line at 1-800-TICKETS (1-800-842-5387) for more information.

With files from The Canadian Press