Paris Olympics fans call ticket pack ‘a racket’ amid rocky start to sales
Organizers of next year’s Paris Olympics are promising relatively modest prices and “equal” access to the event, thanks to an online system designed to revolutionize ticket sales and bring the masses to stadiums and arenas for as little as $26.
However, as the month-long first round of sales winds down, many of the “lucky” winners who opted to buy the first 3 million tickets (out of 10 million total) are frustrated, angry and cheated because they failed during the 48-hour buying window. The few remaining events on offer pay at least €200 (US$212) per ticket. And because the ticketing system requires the purchase of multisport packages, the total cost for many buyers runs into the thousands of dollars.
By the time English teacher Amelie Benny and her 9-year-old son logged into the Olympic box office last week, affordable tickets were gone for many events, except for one of their favorite sports – BMX, water polo and football –sold out.
There are 50 euros ($53) tickets for the football game, but Beni must also buy at least two tickets for the other two games. Available tickets include €150 ($160) for basketball or handball, €230 ($244) for swimming and up to €690 ($732) for qualifying events in track and field.
“Who can afford a ticket at that price?” Penny asked. “I can not afford it.”
Benny was disappointed, saying her son’s enthusiasm for competing in his hometown Olympics evaporated on his 10th birthday because they went offline without buying anything.
“I really want to get tickets to the Olympics. I want my son to have that unique experience in our city,” Beney said. “I’m disappointed with the (ticketing system) and the prices. It’s just insane.”
To buy tickets in the first round, your name must be drawn from the lottery. Beginning February 13th, lucky winners will be notified by email that they have a 48-hour window to purchase three up to a maximum of 30 tickets for at least three different events out of the 32 available. The first round of ticket sales will close on March 15th.
Organizers said they were aware of the high demand and acknowledged that not everyone who wanted to attend the Paris Games would be able to get tickets, and even fewer would be able to get them at low prices.
“We know people are going to be disappointed, we know we’re not going to have tickets for everyone,” Paris Olympics deputy general manager Michael Aloisio said in an interview with The Associated Press. “But we also know that we have more The sales phase is about to start and there will be more tickets.”
Ticket sales account for a large portion of the revenue — a third, according to Aloisio — that Paris organizers need to pay for the Games.
“Our challenge is not to let that compromise our goal of making these games accessible,” Aloisio said.
It was announced last year that there would be 1 million tickets for 24 euros ($26) and more than 4 million tickets for less than 50 euros ($53), which were well received by fans in France and around the world. However, these tickets are sold out in the days leading up to the draw, leaving those “lucky” to later draws with high prices and few items to choose from.
Only 10 percent of the 10 million tickets sold cost more than 200 euros ($212), Aloisio said.
“It’s those tickets that make other tickets more accessible and balances everything out,” he said.
Robin Allison Davis, a 38-year-old American who calls herself an “Olympic superfan,” said that when it was her turn to find her favorite sport — gymnastics , swimming and track and field.
She was willing to pay 260 euros ($276) per ticket to watch a two-hour gymnastics qualifying match, but was frustrated when the online box office seemed to turn into a virtual casino.
“I know it’s going to be expensive, but why would a system that promised me freedom and choice to form my own Olympic package tempt me into buying expensive tickets to a sporting event? I don’t want to see if I want to get an expensive ticket. I really do. wanted to see the event,” Davis said. “The stuff in the ticket pack is the racket.”
Davis lived in Paris for six and a half years as a freelance writer. She didn’t buy a ticket for the first round, saying that she would try her luck again in the second round in May and buy an individual ticket.
Aloisio, an organizing committee official, defended the ticket system and said the Paris organizers aimed to spark curiosity about other sports during the Games.
“These packages are a way to get people interested and buy tickets for water polo semi-finals, hockey or rugby sevens, sports that may have less demand,” Aloisio said.
In total, 10 million Olympic tickets and 3.4 million Paralympic tickets will be available on the online platform. Individual tickets will be available in the second round starting May 11. Registration for the sweepstakes will open on March 15th.
The third stage is expected to start at the end of the year, when all tickets will be sold.