March 26, 2023

Sochi 2014: 92 per cent of tickets sold but seats unclaimed at Winter Olympics

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empty-sochi-640-stadiumFrom Sports NDTV

The reason for the discrepancy between the number of tickets bought in Sochi and people showing up at the Winter Olympics is not entirely clear.

Sochi:  Russian Olympic chiefs said on Sunday they sold 92 percent of tickets for the first day of medal action in Sochi but admitted thousands of seats had gone unclaimed — leading to empty rows at the venues.

Organising committee spokeswoman Alexandra Kosterina said they were satisfied with ticket sales for Saturday’s events. “We saw pretty full stadia,” she said. “We had a good turnout and hope it will get even better as the Olympics go on.” (Read: Russians deny allegations of ‘fixing with Americans’ for Olympic gold)

But she confirmed that thousands of spectators had not made it to the events for which they had bought a ticket, with venues only 81 percent full. About 40,000 people had bought tickets for Saturday’s action. The reason for the discrepancy between the number of tickets bought and people showing up is not entirely clear. (Read: Twitter account cataloguing Sochi problems goes viral)

It is likely to be due to spectators double-booking events and also some not taking into account the time it takes to access venues. Tight — although usually unintrusive — security measures are in place for Sochi, with checks at airport-style metal detectors before entry a possible source of delays.

Kosterina emphasised that it was the responsibility of spectators to work out how long it takes to access venues — a problem in Russia where people like to arrive at the last minute. “People need to understand what time to travel and you need to come in advance,” she said.

She admitted that “we had some problems due to the Russian mentality of arriving as close as possible to the start of an event and never in advance.”

“I think during the first days people are really working out the timing, how long it actually takes them to get to the venues, how long it takes them to cross the security barrier etc. “So it is not an issue of security per se but of logistics.”

The Sochi Winter Olympic Games, a project championed by President Vladimir Putin, are under unprecedented scrutiny after a litany of concerns about Russia’s suitability as a host.

International Olympic Committee (IOC) spokesman Mark Adams praised the start to the Games. “There was great action and great venues. The athletes are at the centre, as it should be,” he said.

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