why is the Olympic Games ticket office so disappointed

As in February, the second phase of ticket sales for the Paris Games has made many unhappy in recent days. The organizing committee indicates a much greater demand than supply and highlights the lowest prices charged. But the price list and the method of allocating tickets raise questions. Explanations.

Rebelote. As with the first round of online ticket sales for the Paris 2024 Olympics in mid-February, many sports fans have been left on the sidelines in recent days. Especially if they haven’t had the chance to be drawn for a slot since the launch of this second phase on Thursday 11 May in the morning. The fault of an offer well below the demand and prohibitive prices for tickets still available.

“who is ashamed”, consider yourself an (un)lucky chosen one, “shocking and aberrant”, according to another, “few seats at low prices”complain one third. The promise of games “popular and accessible”, hammered by the organizers in recent months, comes back to them like a boomerang. Well named? Elements of response trying to put into perspective the functioning of the Paris 2024 ticket office compared to those of the previous Summer Olympics.

One-half rate plan

According to data provided by the Organizing Committee of the Paris Games (COJO), 8 million tickets are offered directly to the public during the various sales phases. Among these, one million shows the minimum price of 24 euros, four million are invoiced between 24 and 50 euros, and the rest, more expensive, will be used to obtain the one and a half billion euros budgeted by the organization to return to its costs. Clearly: ticketing represents a third of Cojo’s budget, a higher share than that of the 2000 Sydney Games (about 25%), and definitely more important than the 3% raised for the Albertville Winter Olympics in 1992.

After the first phase of sales three months ago, which had already sold more than three million tickets, Tony Estanguet was aware that it would generate frustration again, because the offer is very far from responding. It won’t be there for everyone.” he had warned in March.

If the average ticket price is, according to our calculations, 110 euros, the average price, he, it costs “only” 50 euros. In other words: half of the spectators pay a price of less than 50 euros and the organizers charge much higher prices on certain venues (particularly in the quarters, semi-finals and finals of different disciplines) to reach their budget target, explains l economist François Lévêque on the university website The Conversation. “That’s how we balance the books”, says Tony Estanguet. And if some tickets don’t find buyers, it’s the taxpayer who will inherit the bill.

Low prices that are rare…

Where have the millions of 24 euro banknotes gone? About half were advanced by the state and local authorities, in particular by the Paris city hall and the Seine-Saint-Denis department, for solidarity tickets (volunteers in sports, students, people with disabilities, etc.). Only 500,000 tickets were therefore offered to the general public during the first two sales sessions… during which 4 million people signed up. All is not lost, however: 3 million seats still have to go on sale in the autumn, before the official platform for the resale of the precious sesame opens in the spring of 2024 (with an obligation to resell at the purchase price).

… And overall (slightly) more expensive tickets than the previous Olympic Games

Alexandre Faure, urban science researcher at EHESS took out his calculator, to the microphones of France Culture: tickets for the London Olympics were In average of £60 in 2012, which, compared to today’s inflation, is £80 and compared to the euro, €90. This is the average of seats sold today in Paris in 2024. Making ‘Popular Games’ is still a slogan.” Slogans chanted by the organizers of the Sydney* or London* Games in front of their Parisian counterparts.

Comparing the price of the most expensive ticket for the opening ceremony and the 100m final since 2000 gives an idea, albeit incomplete, of the current prices. As well as the base price, generally in line with the host country’s standard of living at the time of the Games. For the 2012 Games, a report by the London Assembly* (the body which monitors the activity of the Mayor of London) determined that the average price paid by spectators who witnessed Mo Farah win the regional stage over 5,000m was 382 EUR. Very expensive, of course, but children benefited from particularly attractive rates: a pound for each age up to 16 years. A fare of £16 was also offered for the elderly.

A method of allocating contested seats (as usual)

Since it is possible to buy tickets online, no system has been unanimous. Among the criticisms leveled at the organizers of Paris 2024, the large number of tickets that the draws were able to buy: up to 30 tickets for all stages combined. In London in 2012 (the Games regularly taken as an example by the organizers of the Paris competition), potential buyers specified before the draw the events for which they wanted to obtain seats, which made it possible to direct them directly to these tickets.

For Paris, the share of seats destined for the general public is not yet known. But, as an example (and to give you an idea), only 45% of the seats in the aquatics complex to watch the diving finals in 2012 were occupied by Britons, according to the London Assembly report*. The rest was bought by foreign spectators or distributed to sponsors, journalists and other dignitaries.

The controversy stirring up France remains far from the scandal surrounding the tickets for the Sydney Games in 2000. Under the system set up at the time, only 1 to 5% of applicants had been able to obtain the test of their choice, the academics stressed at the time Yanni Thamnopoulos and Dimitris Gargalianos, in a study published in 2002*. The purchase system was even less accessible to all budgets: as for the Atlanta Games four years earlier, it was necessary to advance the money before eventually being able to obtain tickets… or be reimbursed.

The Gold Medal of LOSE back the same at the Athens Games in 2004, where the organizers, who gargled in the newspaper Hekatimerine* of their elitist pricing policy – “Not all Greeks will be able to afford all competitions” – he had to sell off the precious sesame in a hurry, for not having sold more than a third of the tickets a few weeks before the deadline. They had even appealed to the patriotism of the Greeks to avoid displaying empty grandstands for worldwide viewing, the New York Times*.

* These links refer to English content

Add a Comment