Johannesburg - South African sports fans intending to attend next year's Olympic Games in England and other parts of Britain are facing a ticket shut-out.
This was revealed on Thursday by Nazeer Camaroodeen, the International Olympic Council's (IOC) official ticketing and travel agent for the London-based sports extravaganza.
Camaroodeen's Fli-Afrika organisation, which also packaged trips for South Africans to attend previous Olympic Games and World Cup soccer tournaments during the past 20 years, is the only official outlet in SA for tickets for next year's event.
Camaroodeen said because of enormous worldwide demand, SA had only been allocated a modest number of tickets for most of the events.
"These have been allocated to those who have already applied for the approximately 1000 packages that we have put together to travel to next year's Olympics," said Camaroodeen.
"You can imagine a situation where a hundred or so countries round the world have applied for tickets for the swimming events to a greater or lesser degree - and the venue for swimming only catering for 12 000 spectators.
"Tickets for the swimming are as precious as gold. The relatively few we had for South African consumption are all gone."
Camaroodeen said there was better news for South African soccer fans hoping to attend the Olympic Games, particularly those with an interest in the women's event for which South Africa's Banyana Banyana have already qualified.
"The latest information we have is that the women's soccer tournament will take place in the London area," said Camaroodeen.
"But because of the large stadiums that will be made available by England's Premier League clubs and the relative[ly] lukewarm interest in women's soccer in the country, I think we'll be able to do something in this area."
Camaroodeen was hopeful of a late allocation of tickets for the men's soccer tournament, with matches spread throughout England and Scotland. Glasgow, Birmingham and Manchester would stage matches in addition to London.
"South Africa still has to participate in the eight-nation qualifying tournament in November and early December, from which three Africa teams will be guaranteed a place in the Olympic soccer tournament," he said.
"Also, what kind of draw will SA obtain if the team qualifies? But apart from the two soccer events, the Olympic ticket situation for South Africans looks bleak with swimming and athletics admission the most difficult to obtain."
Camaroodeen suggested the black market might be the only option for South Africans desperate for a ticket.