TicketManager | Why Can't I Get Tickets for the Rio Olympics?

By Ken Hanscom, Chief Operations Officer, TicketManager

I believe in the power of experiences with others, both personally and professionally. That these experiences build great relationships and drive business. A recent article reminded me not only of the passion I have for the experiences, but also how difficult they can be to obtain when you do not understand the deeper context.

Let me explain.

Last Friday, the Rio de Janeiro Olympics organizers announced the latest ticket sales update for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, stating that only 67% of the tickets have been sold. When you first look at that number you immediately may think that this is great news — with over 2.2 million of the official estimated of 6.7 million tickets unsold, I can still make plans to attend the summer games in Rio and see the events I want to. It is not too late.

That’s when you head over to CoSport — the Rio 2016 Authorized Ticket reseller for the United States — to buy your tickets and see a much different picture for those of us in the United States. If your favorite sport is Judo or Taekwondo, your prospects look fantastic. However, anything else and your prospects look quite bleak, especially if you’re hoping to attend the most popular, marquee events like the opening and closing ceremonies, swimming, beach volleyball and other sought after events.

The thought then occurs to you: If only 67% of tickets are sold for the Rio Olympics, why can’t I get any of the tickets I want?

As with any popular sporting event in the world, for example the World Cup, the Super Bowl, or the Master’s at Augusta, there are a number of reasons why the cards are stacked against you and somewhat rigged to get tickets into hands of those that will use them to dramatically mark up prices. This makes it nearly impossible for the average person to get tickets to the best events at reasonable prices, let alone face value.

Here are the top three reasons:

1. Long Gone: The tickets you want are long gone. They were doled out months ago to spectators, speculators and experience companies. The most popular events, the ones that show up on NBC during primetime viewing each evening, are sold out in many cases and were sold out a long time ago. Of the two million unsold tickets, the vast majority are for preliminary (non-medal ceremony) events or those that tend to be less popular with spectators, including Judo, Taekwondo, and Weight Lifting. Many of these tickets were accumulated more than a year ago from the various lotteries and sales to the public, and via private sales to a number of experience companies.

2. Taken Hostage Inside of Outrageous Packages: Having contacted many “experience” providers like Fandeavor, BucketListEvents, On Point Events, and RoadTrips to name a few, it is shocking to see what these outfits charge people for access to the Olympics. Packages for six nights start at $10,000 for two people for a 4-star hotel and a couple of sets of the worst category tickets to low demand events. These tickets were sold for less than $50 at face value. Move up to higher category of tickets for premium events, and you are in the stratosphere north of $30,000 once you factor in flights, food and more for just six nights of the 20 days of competition. Even CoSport, the authorized ticket reseller for the United States hotel and ticket packages, is asking an astounding $15,000 for two people to stay in a hotel for six nights with a few sets of tickets (for reference, the hotel is normally $59/night during that time of the year).

3. Held by Other Countries: While over 70% of the available tickets have been earmarked for Brazil, other countries have struggled to resell their individual allocations. Starting in June, those countries will begin returning unsold inventory to the Rio Olympic organizers, which may be distributed back to the United States and other European countries where the demand far outweighs the supply. In addition, starting in June, Rio 2016 will open up box offices in several locations to sell the remaining tickets.

If you had dreams of attending the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio and seeing the most popular events at a reasonable price, it will be a challenge. However, all hope is not lost and there are still many opportunities and strategies to get the tickets you want with only 73 days to go before the Opening Ceremonies.

I will cover how you can pull it off in my next post.