By Julien Pretot
PARIS (Reuters) – Demand to watch events at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games has exceeded expectations and more seats than planned will be available to the public in the second phase of sales, organisers said on Thursday amid criticism of ticket prices.
Games organisers said they sold 3.25 million tickets in the opening phase after setting a goal of 3 million.
Another 1.5 million tickets will be up for sale in May for the high-demand events, instead of 750,000.
Tickets were available online through a single platform earlier this year following a draw, but many users found it impossible to find the cheapest seats – at 24 euros ($25) – as the system was on a first drawn, first served basis.
“The tickets help us finance the Games,” said Paris 2024 president Tony Estanguet. “But we also want the stadiums to be full and have a fantastic atmosphere. People want affordable tickets, but we have to find the right balance.”
Tickets for the London 2012 Olympics were overall cheaper, but Paris 2024 managing director Etienne Thobois said comparisons should be put into perspective.
“If you look at London 2012, it’s very comparable, because of the inflation,” he explained. “Also, tickets are cheaper than they would have been at Tokyo.”
The Tokyo Games were held with no spectators amid the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021.
“Of these 3.25 million tickets we sold, more than 10% were at 24 euros and 70% were under 100 euros,” said Estanguet, who added that the top buyers were based first in France then in Britain, the U.S., Germany and the Netherlands.
“Climbing and freestyle BMX tickets were sold out on the first day.
“Because of the success of the first phase, we’ve decided to put more tickets up for sale in the second phase and then we’ll see the results of that phase and decide on the next steps,” Estanguet added.
Some 70,000 tickets will be up for sale for the opening ceremony on July 26.
The Games end on Aug. 11.
($1 = 0.9476 euros)
(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Ken Ferris)