THE PyeongChang Winter Olympics in South Korea is suffering from poor ticket sales five months ahead of the event, reveals an AP report.
Organizers set out to sell a million tickets and were projecting 70 percent of them to be bought by locals. But so far, only 52,000 have been sold to domestic spectators, less than seven percent of the target.
However, international sales performed better with about half of the projected 320,000 tickets already snapped up. Organizers are hoping for a surge in sales in both domestic and international sales as the Games draw closer.
The report suggested that poor sales could be attributed to increased tension between South Korea and North Korea after the latter threatened to launch nuclear weapons across the border. The city of Pyeongchang is less than 100km from the border.
Pyeongchang’s organizing committee president Lee Hee-beom told AP that North Korea is unlikely to cause harm to the South during the Games because North Korean athletes could be competing as well. He added that the best way to ease worries is to ensure the North’s participation in the Games.
At the moment, it’s unclear whether athletes from the North are competing as they are traditionally weak at winter sports. A figure skating duo could have a chance to qualify and the South is looking at ways to grant them visas into the country should they enter the final rounds.
In general, Lee is optimistic about sales: “This is a country that sold more than eight million tickets even for the Expo 2012 in Yeosu. We can definitely handle a million tickets.”
On top of that, tension between South Korea and China over a US military-deployed defense system could affect sales closer to the Games in February. Presently, South Korea’s tourism industry is recording a dip in Chinese visitors, its biggest tourist market.