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Being part of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London means either making a 260-foot discus throw, pronto, or studying up fast on tickets, transport and hotels.

The Games are July 27-Aug. 12. The Paralympic Games follow, Aug. 29-Sept. 9.

The hub of the action is Stratford, about eight miles northeast of Big Ben and central London.

By the end of July, officials said construction had been completed on all six major venues in the new 500-acre Olympic Park: an 80,000-seat Olympic Stadium, an aquatics center, a velodrome, a handball arena, a basketball arena and a broadcast center.

The park’s Athletes’ Village will house about 17,000 competitors and officials.

Many of the 302 events (in 34 venues) will take place at familiar London-area landmarks: soccer at Wembley Stadium, tennis at Wimbledon, archery at Lord’s Cricket Ground, road cycling in Regent’s Park and latter-round basketball at North Greenwich Arena.

During the Games, officials say they expect as many as 200,000 visitors a day within Olympic Park.

Between events, many will head next door to the vast Westfield Stratford City mall, which opened Sept. 13, 2011, with 1.9 million square feet of retail space, a casino, bowling, a 17-screen cinema and two hotels.

Overall, tourism officials say Britain, which had about 30 million international visitors in 2010, is likely to draw an extra 900,000 or so in 2012 because of the Olympics.

Getting there

It’s not just the Olympics that make this a tough airfare; it’s the usual summer jump in prices. A Nov. 23 search for LAX-London (any airport) on the British Airways website showed the lowest available round-trip fare (taxes included) at $1,418 for a June 26 flight (returning a week later); $1,478 for a July 26 flight; and $1,107 for an Aug. 26 flight. On the Virgin Atlantic Airways site, the numbers were $1,438 for June 26; $1,584 for July 26; and $1,057 for Aug. 26.

Getting in

There are said to be 8.8 million Olympics tickets and 2 million more for the Paralympics, but many events are sold out. Americans might get a chance at tickets not yet sold, but no guarantees. If so, officials say it would probably come in early 2012. Meanwhile, there is a way to get tickets, especially if your pockets are deep.

The name to know is CoSport. The U.S. Olympic Committee has given the company exclusive rights to sell tickets and ticket packages by phone and Internet in the U.S. The CoSport website,, will have up-to-date info on ticket releases, and consumers can sign up to receive updates. CoSport’s phone: 877-457-4647.

Though it doesn’t have individual tickets, CoSport is selling multiple-event packages, sometimes including hotel stays, at prices that may terrify Olympic amateurs. These sales, which began in early 2011, will end two months before the Games or when the supply is exhausted, whichever comes first.

CoSport’s offerings in mid-November included: An Aug. 9-10 package of tickets to the men’s beach volleyball finals and medal ceremony, along with men’s and women’s tae kwon do preliminaries and the women’s hockey finals and medal ceremony. Price: $1,834 a person. That includes access to CoSport’s hospitality area but not lodging, meals, airfare or ground transport.

An Aug. 11-12 package of tickets to the closing ceremony; the women’s basketball gold-medal game and medal ceremony; and the men’s bronze-medal volleyball game is priced at $7,162 a person. (That includes hospitality area access but excludes lodging, meals, airfare and ground transport.)

Among the packages that include lodging: A July 26-30 stay with breakfasts at the Hilton London Metropole Hotel, with tickets to archery, gymnastics and equestrian events and two men’s preliminary basketball games. Price: $13,588 for two people, $10,563 for one. (Includes access to CoSport’s hospitality area but excludes airfare, ground transport and most meals.)

An Aug. 3-5 stay with breakfasts at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge, with tickets to the men’s and women’s trampoline finals and medal ceremonies. Price: $9,212 for two people, $6,488 for one. (Includes access to CoSport’s hospitality area but not airfare, ground transport and most meals.)

If CoSport makes more individual event tickets available to Americans in the weeks or months ahead, officials said they would stick with previously set prices. A chart on CoSport’s website shows that tickets begin at $44 (badminton preliminaries, handball preliminaries, etc.), with most less than $200. The best seats went for as much as $890 each for gymnastics finals and medal ceremonies on Aug. 5 and up to $1,389 for a series of big-ticket athletics (track and field) finals and ceremonies on Aug. 11.

Flexibility is crucial to landing tickets, said Mark Lewis, chief executive of CoSport’s parent company, Jet Set Sports, in an October phone interview.

“Maybe you’ve never seen a team handball match or never seen a weightlifting competition,” he said. “But to go do that during the Olympics — those are awesome things to see.”

One more thing, to buy Olympics tickets, you must use a Visa card. Visa is a major sponsor.

Getting a room

As often happens with the Olympics, organizers are holding back most of greater London’s 140,000 hotel rooms, residence halls and student dorms while they arrange housing for dignitaries and such. Once those lodgings are sorted out, hotels are expected to release rooms on Jan. 24. Officials haven’t said how many rooms they expect to release, but many will probably be grabbed up by tour operators.

Still, there are London hotels that can be booked now.

In mid-November, a check of the high-demand dates July 27-Aug. 2 yielded scores of choices, many of them distant from Olympic Park. Listings included the five-star Sofitel London Heathrow at about $484 a night and the two-star Boka Hotel (near Earls Court) at about $400 a night.

Because many Olympic venues are far from Olympic Park, a hotel an hour’s train ride outside London might make sense. Also, your odds of finding a place increase if you consider some of the 30,000 or more apartments, hostel rooms and home-stay options.

Getting around

The idea is that nobody should drive to these Games. Toward that end, an expansion of London’s extensive rail transit system includes high-speed trains that race from St. Pancras station in central London to the Stratford International station (next to Olympic Park) in as little as seven minutes. Tickets to most events come with a Games Travelcard good for free day-of-event travel on most public trains and buses in the city. Three “gateway” rail stations neighbor Olympic Park: Stratford International, Stratford Regional and West Ham.

Getting a fair price

Prices tend to rise, sometimes dramatically, during the Olympics. But dozens of London tourist attractions have signed a “visitor charter” pledging to “maintain normal prices” during the Games. Among the signers: the London Eye, the Tower of London and the London Walks tour company.

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