By Duncan Mackay
Organisers were today forced to extend the deadline to apply for tickets for next year's Olympics by more than an hour to cope with a last-minute surge in demand.
Problems struck the website for about 20 minutes from 10.30pm last night, as the clock ticked down to the 11.59pm deadline for the 6.6 million tickets.
At 11.37pm - 22 minutes before the deadline expired - London 2012 posted a Twitter message informing people it had been extended.
"We apologise for any inconvenience this delay may have caused and the ticketing system will remain open until 1am," the message said.
The website still appeared to be accepting applications after this time, however, but by 1.30am a spokesman confirmed the site was closed to new applicants and a notice on the site told users that applications for tickets had shut.
Members of the public using the site to register for tickets, which will be allocated later by ballot, were met by a holding message.
The website, www.tickets.london2012.com, displayed a page telling would-be customers: "We're experiencing high demand. You will be automatically directed to the page requested as soon as it becomes available. Thank you for your patience."
After a lengthy waiting period the holding page timed out leaving some users with a new page that read simply: "Sorry, we cannot process your request. Please try again later."
Sports fans were told that the six-week ticket application was a marathon, not a sprint, and that they would have the same chance of getting a ticket on the first or the last day of the process.
There were 650 sessions across 26 sports and 17 days to choose from, and people were limited to a maximum of 20 events each.
Prices ranged from £20 ($33) to £2,012 ($3,321).
They included paying up to £2,012 for the opening ceremony, up to £725 ($1,196) for the showpiece 100m athletics final and between £50 ($83) and £325 ($537 million) for the track cycling finals.
People will find out whether or not they have secured tickets by June 24.