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For Olympics tourists, competition is queueing up

- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 18, 2010

VANCOUVER -- While the athletes from around the world are getting plenty of chances to skate, ski and slide around Vancouver, the thousands of spectators are getting a chance to practice something else: their patience.

Entertainment opportunities fill the city during the Olympics, with several streets blocked off to traffic to become pedestrian malls, and events that take place throughout the city's neighborhoods. As a result, there are a lot of people out in lines waiting for their turn to do just about anything.

People are getting into long lines to buy and pick up tickets. They line up for the airport-style security at each event site, and then they line up again to make sure those tickets that they waited for get scanned.

But even outside the event venues, there are other lines to see.

There are the expected lines for the necessities of food and the portable toilets around town. But fans are lining up to play mini-curling on the sidewalk. They're lining up to get their pictures taken with one of the three Olympic mascots. They're lined up to get into the Coca-Cola Pavilion in LiveCity Yaletown. Which, of course, follows a lengthy wait to get into LiveCity Yaletown itself.

They even line up to buy Olympic merchandise. At the official Olympics retailer housed on the first floor of a large department store downtown, people are lining up down an entire city block and waiting up to 45 minutes just for the right to spend money there, despite the fact that pretty much every souvenir shop in town carries a wide array of gear sporting the Vancouver 2010 logo.

But perhaps the lengthiest wait is for one of the most unusual contraptions downtown.

Over Robson Square downtown, fans can ride a 550-foot zipwire over city streets and an ice rink (not to mention plenty of line-waiters below) for free.

The reported wait time: around four or five hours.