Sochi Olympic Officials Say Tickets Selling Well
Olympic organizers said ticket sales were robust on Sunday but that attendance was 'slightly lower' than the number of recorded transactions.
Aleksandra Kosterina, a spokeswoman for the Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee, said 59,395 tickets were sold for Sunday's events, representing about 90% of those available, but that not all who purchased them attended the games. The most popular events were luge and the final night of team figure skating, in which Russia earned its first gold medal of the games, which was 'almost a complete sellout,' she said.
Early results from Monday events were mixed. Attendance at speed skating was robust, while at the U.S. women's hockey game against Switzerland, 3,812 attended out of a capacity of 7,000, down from more than 4,100 people for the last game, according to announced figures.
Questions regarding attendance at the Sochi Games have been persistent, given that the organizers haven't been consistent in preparation for the games. Some events, like biathlon and figure skating, are popular with the home crowd, while open seats are easily visible at venues for hockey and other sports.
Kosterina didn't directly address whether Sochi event volunteers were being asked to be seat-fillers, but she said off-shift workers are allowed to take seats.
'We invite some volunteers to join in if seats are available,' Kosterina said.
Organizers have said in recent days that they are encouraging local spectators to arrive earlier for events.
'I don't think there are a lot of people here,' said Lidia Babich, a Sochi resident who was in the park today with her husband and grandson, with tickets for women's hockey. She was looking around the Olympic Park, which was unusually warm and sunny, with a temperature around 15 degrees Celsius (59 Fahrenheit).
'People are saying it's because the tickets are expensive,' she said, adding that they bought theirs months ago, costing about 500 rubles each (a little over $14 U.S.). 'It's not clear why they say there's nothing available.'
'The trains are full,' she said. 'But the lines for tickets are really long. I can't understand why.'
That's an issue organizers are working on, according to Kosterina. The committee is working to remedy congestion at centers where spectators pick up passes, particularly at the Olympic Park train station, where organizers are adding more cashiers to expedite admission, she said.
Also on Monday, Christophe Dubi, the sports director for the International Olympic Committee, addressed concerns that the addition of team events, a disadvantage to emerging nations in competitive sport whose talent pool is less robust. Traditional Winter Olympics medal powerhouses Russia, Canada, and the U.S. took the podium spots for the first ever Olympic team figure skating event on Sunday.
'We're at an unprecedented level of universality, with 88 [national] Olympic committees participating,' said Dubi, who also spoke to the inclusion of new sports at these games, like slopestyle snowboarding. When planning the Olympic itinerary, he said, the committee seeks to offer a program that balances a showcase for top athletic talent and inclusion of nations across the medal table.
2014索契冬奥会组委会(Organizing Committee)发言人克斯特丽娜(Aleksandra Kosterina)表示，已经售出59,395张周日比赛门票，占可售门票的90%左右，但并不是所有购票人都到场。最抢手的门票当数雪橇项目和花样滑冰团体赛晚间决赛，俄罗斯队在花样滑冰团体赛中夺冠，为本国摘得本届冬奥会首枚金牌，发言人称，这场比赛的门票几乎售罄。
索契居民巴比奇(Lidia Babich)说，我认为这里的人不是很多；她周一持女子冰球比赛门票、携丈夫和孙子出现在奥林匹克公园(Olympic Park)，当天天气非常温暖，阳光和煦，气温在15摄氏度（59华氏度）左右。
另外国际奥委会(International Olympic Committee)体育主任杜比(Christophe Dubi)周一还表达了对增加团体赛项目的担忧，因为新兴国家由于竞技性运动人才不足而处在劣势。在首度纳入冬奥会项目的花样滑冰团体赛中，周日站在领奖台上的是传统的冬奥会奖牌大户俄罗斯、加拿大和美国。