Northern Ireland

Giro d'Italia: Long queues for team presentation tickets

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Media captionHundreds of people queued outside the Visit Belfast Welcome Centre for free tickets

Organisers of the Giro d'Italia cycle race opening ceremony in Belfast have blamed "extremely high demand" for long delays faced by people trying to secure tickets on the internet.

When the free tickets became available online at 09:00 BST, many people were advised of a 90-minute wait.

More than 500 people queued in Belfast city centre for the tickets and received them without any problems.

All 5,500 tickets for the Belfast City Hall event have now been allocated.

Some people had been queuing from 04:45 BST. The first person in the queue was Kevin Hillen, from Bessbrook in south Armagh.

The opening ceremony will be held on the evening of Thursday 8 May.

Image caption People attempting to get tickets online were told they faced long delays

Gerry Lennon, chief executive of Visit Belfast, said the response "clearly demonstrates the level of excitement and anticipation there is for this world-class sporting event".

"Demand for tickets far exceeded supply and inevitably those who were unsuccessful will feel disappointed," he said.

"Online demand was particularly high, resulting in lengthy waiting times and we appreciate the patience of the many that persevered."

At the opening ceremony, the nine riders from each of the 22 teams will be presented along with a range of entertainment, ahead of the race which begins the following day at Titanic Belfast.

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