Tokyo Olympics offers ‘second-chance’ lottery for Japan fans

Organisers are putting “a few hundred-thousand” tickets into a lottery next month for those residents who were shut out when results of the first lottery were announced in June.

3.22 million tickets were sold to Japan residents in the first lottery.   -  AP (Representative Image)

Tokyo Olympic organisers are putting “a few hundred-thousand” tickets into a lottery next month for Japan residents who were shut out when results of the first lottery were announced in June.

The new “second-chance” lottery is being organised on short notice because of unprecedented demand in Japan. Demand is believed to be at least 10 times over supply probably more. It means few in the host country who want tickets can get them.

Organising committee spokesman Masa Takaya on Friday said 3.22 million tickets were sold to Japan residents in the first lottery. He said more than 90 percent of applicants bought the tickets that they were awarded. He said only the unsold tickets would be those offered in the next round.

Not enough tickets

Tokyo organisers are trying to satisfy the Japanese public. But there simply aren’t enough Olympic tickets to go around with demand soaring. Authorised Ticket Resellers, the Olympic agents contracted to sell tickets outside Japan, have also opened sales worldwide and are experiencing unprecedented demand and some delays in getting tickets.

The overall numbers suggest that Japan residents may get fewer than 50 percent of the 7.8 million tickets that organisers say are available for all events. The rest are for sale outside Japan, or go to sponsors, national Olympic committees, sports federations, and dignitaries.

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Tokyo is a reversal from recent Olympics when tickets were unsold and many events were poorly attended. That won’t be the case with 35 million people in Greater Tokyo looking to attend. Tickets sales are projected to raise about USD 800 million for the organising committee’s operating budget of USD 5.6 billion. The largest source of income for the privately funded budget is a record-setting USD 3 billion paid by more than 60 local Japanese sponsors, all of whom will be looking for tickets.

The short supply is sure to drive scalping.

Scalping prohibited

Japan passed a law last month that prohibits ticket scalping with a 1 million yen (USD 9,100) fine and a one-year jail term or both.

The IOC was embarrassed three years ago in Rio de Janeiro when IOC member Patrick Hickey was arrested on charges of ticket scalping. He has denied any wrongdoing.

StubHub, an online ticket exchange company based in the United States, has handled tickets for previous Olympics. It is critical of the new Japanese scalping law, which might affect StubHub’s ability to handle tickets this time.

“Unfortunately, the Japanese law is flawed in its attempt to artificially control the ticket marketplace, and fans will likely be negatively impacted,” Jill Krimmel, general manager for sports for StubHub, said. “Instead, StubHub believes that a safe, transparent, and competitive marketplace best serves fans and the games.”