Canadians are lining up to buy $345 million in tickets for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, with strong demand shown in the initial offering from Oct. 3 to Nov. 7.
More than a third of the demand was on the last day of sales, with $135 million worth of tickets requested on Nov. 7.
By way of comparison, only $75 million (U.S. dollars, not adjusted for inflation) of tickets were sold in the first phase of ticket sales for the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City.
Requesting tickets is only the first step, and as demand for many events has exceeded available seating, tickets for those events will be awarded through a lottery system. VANOC announced Thursday that of 170 ticketed events, 120 will need to go through the lottery.
The process was designed to discourage scalpers and non-authorized tour agents from guaranteeing tickets to visitors.
According to VANOC, the lottery will apply to all figure skating events, short track speed skating, and all men’s ice hockey games from the quarter finals onward.
• More than 140,000 tickets were requested for the men’s gold medal hockey game, or more than seven times the capacity of General Motors Place.
• More than 41,000 tickets were requested for the women’s gold medal hockey game.
• More than 27,000 tickets were requested for the men’s halfpipe snowboard competition.
• More than 34,000 tickets were requested for short track speed skating, including the men’s 500-metre final, the ladies’ 1,000-metre final and the men’s 5,000-metre relay final.
• In Whistler, more than 10,200 tickets were requested for the men’s four-man bobsleigh finals.
• More than 19,800 tickets were requested for the men’s gold medal curling.
No figures were available from VANOC this week, but sales are strong for many of the Whistler events, and most are going to the lottery.
The remaining tickets available in this first round of sales will be released for sale exclusively to Canadians who made requests during the request period, and who may not get tickets for the events of their choice through the lottery. This “Priority Access Period” will run from Dec. 8 to Dec. 22.
After that point, tickets will be made available to the Canadian public, before a general sale of tickets on a first come, first served basis in 2009.
As for visitors from other countries, National Olympic Committees are responsible for the sale of tickets and have made requests to VANOC for blocks of tickets based on interest. Those numbers are not available yet.
Other tickets will be available through international travel and ticketing agencies approved by the International Olympic Committee and VANOC.
In total, there are more than 1.6 million tickets available for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games. About 70 per cent of those tickets are available to the public, while 30 per cent are reserved for Olympic family and VIPs.
“Canadians are clearly not only excited to welcome the world, but are also expected to be here in person to witness the thrill of competition in 2010,” said Caley Denton, vice president of ticketing and consumer marketing for VANOC. “For many people, submitting a request for tickets drives home the realization that we are now less than 15 months away from hosting one of the most anticipated events in the world.”