Athens 2004 indicates ticket flop

Forced to divulge details on lagging ticket sales for the August Olympics in the wake of critical press reports, the Athens 2004 organizing committee yesterday presented figures showing that it had only managed to sell 36 percent of all seats made available to the «Olympic family» of IOC officials, sponsors and broadcasters. The committee said an overall total of 1.95 million tickets have been bought so far – out of a total of 5.3 million that were put up for sale. On June 1, the figure was 1.83 million. According to an Athens 2004 announcement, the total value of the tickets sold covers 79 percent of the 183-million-euro target, up from 75 percent on June 1. The announcement followed press reports that two-thirds of all tickets set aside for the Olympic family had been returned. Athens 2004 said only 8 percent of these tickets had been returned. However, it admitted that the Olympic family had only bought 900,000 tickets, out of the 2.3 million it had been offered. Sales among the public were marginally better, reaching 1.05 million – out of the 3 million available. Until now, Athens 2004 had offered no indication of how sales were split between the public and the Olympic family. The government has said that filling stadiums during the August 13-29 Games is just as important as having the venues ready on time. In an interview on Saturday, Alternate Culture Minister Fanni Palli-Petralia hinted that the government might ask the International Olympic Committee to slash ticket prices, in the hope of attracting more spectators. But yesterday’s announcement adamantly ruled out such a move. Athens 2004 also said 1.35 million of the unsold tickets were for group sports in which the competition schedules had only been determined recently, or have not yet been set.