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Thousands more prized Olympic tickets will go on sale this week and next, including some to the 2010 Games' most-sought after event, the men's gold medal hockey final.

With single tickets for the highly anticipated showdown priced at better than $2,000 on Craigslist.org and other fan auction sites, some lucky fans will have a chance to purchase top-priced, face-value tickets for $775, although the Vancouver Games organizing committee (VANOC) is not saying how or when.

Ticketing vice-president Caley Denton said yesterday that officials have been scouring each venue to determine final media and camera placings, and that process is now yielding more room for the public.

The extra seats may produce up to a thousand added admissions to the gala opening ceremonies on Friday, Denton said, plus fresh tickets to all other Olympic events. Besides men's hockey, they include high-demand competitions such as figure skating, speed skating and the women's hockey final.

Tickets to these events are available only at dramatically-inflated prices on private auction sites, including VANOC's own fan-to-fan system.

Final numbers of VANOC's last public sale are still to be determined. Asked whether as many as 50 tickets would be offered for the gold medal men's hockey final, Denton replied: "Hopefully, more. We expect at least a hundred extra for each event, and in some cases, even more than that."

But fans will have to be extremely fortunate to secure them, since there will be no organized online sale, as in previous VANOC ticket sales.

Instead, said Denton, VANOC will merely "put out a tweet" announcing tickets are available for specific events, if numbers warrant. When the proffered amount is not that high, however, the added tickets will just suddenly show up on VANOC's website, without advance notice. "Some people will get lucky," Denton said.

With little more than four days to go before the 2010 Winter Olympics begin, the Games are not a sell-out. Tickets remain for preliminary curling and hockey rounds, plus some of the nightly medal presentation ceremonies, complete with live entertainment, that take place at BC Place.

"But for the most part, we're sold out," Denton said. "There's been a huge demand, here and internationally."

VANOC allocated about 1.6 million tickets for the 2010 Games. Close to 40 per cent were reserved for purchase by members of the so-called Olympic Family, comprising corporate sponsors, government partners, officials, media and national Olympic committees.

Denton said VANOC has worked to avoid the embarrassment of many past Olympics, bedevilled by vast swathes of empty seats, when Olympic Family tickets aren't used. "We're not going to be perfect, but we are confident we will have full venues. We've tried to make sure every seat has a body in it."

VANOC, meanwhile, said early returns from athletes and officials on the athletes' villages in Vancouver and Whistler has been extremely positive.

"I was talking to someone from the U.S. Olympic committee who's attended 15 Olympic Games, and he told me that this has been, by far, his best experience," according to executive vice-president Cathy Priestner-Allinger. "I think the attention to detail is the best there's ever been."

Comfort is not assured, however, for spectators.

In what may be a Winter Olympic first, VANOC officials are advising ticket-holders to be prepared and consider bringing an umbrella to Games venues. If it rains, and you don't have an umbrella, rain ponchos will be on sale at most sites, they said during a briefing yesterday.

Vancouver has been swept by wet, balmy weather in recent weeks, and current forecasts predict more of the same for the first few days of the Olympics.

In another move that could be a first, spectators at mountain venues will be allowed to bring in commercially-bottled water that is not produced by the Games' corporate sponsor, Coca-Cola.

At past Games, brand police have gone so far as to tape over insignias of reporters' computers if they are not those of an official sponsor. But in the case of bottled water, Coke's sales monopoly is not being enforced at mountain venues because of the lack of potable water available, officials said.

Follow on Twitter: @rodmickleburgh

 

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