Pyeongchang organizers say ticket sales increasing while stressing Games will be safe

Pyeongchang organizers say ticket sales increasing while stressing Games will be safe
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Ticket sales for the upcoming Winter Games in South Korea are increasing, with roughly a third of the total allotment already sold and expectations that purchases will increase dramatically in the next two months, Pyeongchang organizing committee president and CEO Lee Hee-beom said in an interview with USA TODAY Sports.

As of today, the committee has sold 34% of its allotment, Lee said, and in total expects to sell roughly 1.17 million tickets to the Games, which will hold its opening ceremony on Feb. 9.

“Every day, ticket sales are increasing,” Lee said Monday. “We expect by the end of this month it will reach more than 50 to 60%, which is not so bad.”

Most tickets are sold two or three months before the start of the Games, he added, citing the most recent Asian Games, a quadrennial event last held in 2014 in Incheon, South Korea.

“We have confidence. We have many strategies to fill a fulls stadium,” said Lee.

One such strategy will cater to students, since the Olympic Games will coincide with winter vacation across South Korea. In addition, Lee said, companies have asked to purchase tickets in bulk.

“So with group ticket sales for the students and the companies, I think we can have a full stadium and achieve 100% ticket sales.”

In terms of accommodations, the organizing committee is “working in real time to match the supply and demand for the region,” Do Jong-hwan, the Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism, said through a translator.

The committee expects 100,000 attendees per day of the Olympics, with 60,000 staying in the Pyeongchang area, and has acquired 42,000 rooms – estimating a need for at least 30,000 rooms – within an hour of the main events.

“We believe we do have adequate accommodations for the region,” Do said. “With the construction of the new highways and the expressways and the buses coming from different regions, as well as the construction of the high-speed train that completes in December, we believe this will allow us to spread out the demand.”

Meanwhile, preparations for the Games continue against the backdrop of increased international tensions surrounding North Korea, known officially as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, or DPRK. Concerns over security in the region may impact the willingness of foreign visitors to travel to the Games, an idea the organizing committee rebuffs, pointing to international competitions held in South Korea that have gone off without incident.

“Over the years, Korea has hosted several international competitions under safe circumstances. We hosted the Olympics in 1988, the World Cup in 2002 and other competitions,” Song Suk-doo, the Vice Governor of the Gangwon Provincial Government, said through a translator.

On Monday, the United Nations approved by consensus the Olympic Truce for the Pyeongchang Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, a resolution proposed by South Korea calling for “a peaceful and better world through sport and Olympic ideal.”

“With the Olympic Truce resolution, the United Nations General Assembly is creating the conditions for all athletes to compete in peace,” said International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach.

To ensure the safety of athletes and attendees, South Korea has worked with other countries as well as its own international security apparatus to “make sure Korea is safe and secure,” Lee said.

“We have never cancelled an event, ever,” said Song. “And we always believe that Korea is very safe.”

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