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London resident Shannon Poole is silhouetted as she looks at the setting sun behind the Olympic Rings hanging from Tower Bridge in London Monday, July 23, 2012. The city will host the 2012 Olympics with opening ceremonies for the games scheduled for Friday, July 27. (Charlie Riedel/The Associated Press)

London resident Shannon Poole is silhouetted as she looks at the setting sun behind the Olympic Rings hanging from Tower Bridge in London Monday, July 23, 2012. The city will host the 2012 Olympics with opening ceremonies for the games scheduled for Friday, July 27.

(Charlie Riedel/The Associated Press)

Canadian Olympic ticket buyers facing snafu Add to ...

He thought it would take 15 minutes or so, but when Pete Richards went to pick up his tickets for two events at the London Olympic Games, he had to join a long lineup.

He left four hours later, with his tickets and a sunburn. “It was a disaster,” said Mr. Richards, a 32-year-old engineer who recently moved to London from Toronto. “I thought I was going to be in and out in 15, 20 minutes.”

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Mr. Richards was among hundreds of customers lining up Monday at the City of Westminster College’s Paddington campus, where CoSport began handing out Olympic tickets to customers who didn’t pay extra to have them shipped.

The company is the official overseas ticketing partner for countries including Canada, Australia and the U.S. It was flooded with complaints Monday, as hundreds lined up and others received groups of tickets that weren’t seated together.

Mr. Richards was getting two pairs of tickets, for himself and his girlfriend, who will be travelling from Toronto to see the canoe sprint event and volleyball at the Games. He said the first ticket complication was when the information sent to him from CoSport said he should show up after 9 a.m., an hour later than what the company’s website advised.

He said he feels lucky that he managed to get seats together. “A family of four had three [tickets] side by side and one across the stadium,” Mr. Richards said.

No comment was immediately available from CoSport’s Canadian office, which directs callers to a U.K. phone number, where the voicemail is full.

A London 2012 spokeswoman told The Guardian newspaper that purchasers should contact CoSport, who would have to deal with the issues. “The issues are around how they have distributed and allocated the tickets. Something has gone wrong with how they are allocated and distributed,” she said.

The Guardian also reported that CoSport was the subject of complaints in the U.S. last week after it told hundreds of purchasers that they would have to pick up tickets from a box office in London. About 500 of the 4,000 tickets it had sold were not sent in the mail.

Mike Segal lined up early Monday because it was the only day he was available during the pick-up period, from Monday to Aug. 12. The Canadian, who now lives in London, had to catch a flight in the afternoon. “I thought it would be 30 to 60 minutes max,” he said.

Mr. Segal was in line to get a pair of gymnastics tickets. When it became clear that the wait would be much longer than an hour, he and the people around him tried calling CoSport, he said. But no one seemed to have information so they turned to Twitter to see how long people at the front of the line had been waiting.

“People were getting inside but then they couldn’t find the tickets,” Mr. Segal said.

He said he was able to get some tickets directly from London 2012, a process that was more efficient and included text messages to say the tickets had been mailed and delivered.

He said he didn’t opt to have the CoSport tickets sent to him because it was too expensive. Although Mr. Segal moved to London for school, he said he used his permanent Ottawa address and Canadian credit card for those tickets. “Your only option was CoSport,” he said. “We just wanted tickets.”

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