Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Curling a surprise hit for Olympic Tickets

As reported by The Toronto Star www.thestar.com
Curling a surprise hit with Olympic ticket buyers

95 per cent are already sold out Rogge confident

Dec. 3, 2005. 01:00 AM

DUBLIN—Speed skating is sold out at the Turin Olympics, while curling could be the hit of the Games with an unexpected demand for tickets.

The Turin Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games (TOROC) gave a percentage breakdown of tickets yesterday at the general assembly of the European Olympic Committees meetings in the Irish capital.

Speed skating is the only sport to be sold out for games, which run Feb. 10-26. Curling is nearly 95 per cent sold out. Luge and skeleton are the two least-popular sports, both with 79 per cent of their tickets yet to sell.

As of September, 75 per cent of all tickets sold have been to non-Italians.

Luciano Barra, the chief operating officer of TOROC, said the unsold tickets were mainly in the preliminary rounds, with finals in nearly all sports sold out.

Barra said the Dutch had fuelled the speed skating sellout by buying 38,000 tickets.

Short track speed skating has 17.3 per cent of tickets left.

However, Barra was surprised at the popularity of curling, which has 16 days of competition in a 3,000-seat arena.

"This is in the village, and many are coming from Switzerland and Britain," Barra said.

Figure skating is the other most-popular sport, with only 3.3 per cent of tickets left.

Surprisingly, ceremonies haven't sold well, with 43.3 per cent of tickets to the opening ceremony and 54.5 per cent of tickets to the closing ceremony still available.

Nordic combined had 63 per cent of tickets left, alpine skiing had 31 per cent left and hockey had 44.7 per cent.

TOROC is targeting 82 percent of all tickets to be sold. So far, TOROC has sold 540,000 of the 1 million tickets available.

"Italians traditionally don't buy tickets two months before,'' Barra said.

ROGGE TALKS DOPE: IOC president Jacques Rogge says he's confident a solution can be worked out with the Italian government on how to punish doping at the Turin Olympics.

Rogge met with Italian government representative Mario Pescante in private at the general assembly of the European Olympic Committees (EOC).

"I can tell you that we will find a solution for the doping issue in the full respect of the Italian law by finding what I call intelligent solutions," Rogge said.

Italian law includes criminal sanctions for doping violations, while the IOC only calls for disqualification for any doping offence with no legal penalties.

Pescante, president of the EOC, wants the law suspended during the Turin Games from Feb. 10-26.


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