Economics

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Is the Trump-Kim Standoff the Cause of Frigid Ticket Sales for the Winter Olympics?

4 Oct, 2017

By: Michael Popke

There may or may not be a direct correlation between the fact that the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, will be held 50 miles from the heavily fortified North Korean border and reports of slow ticket sales.

As North Korea launches nuclear missile tests on an increasingly frequent basis, South Korea is having trouble generating interest in the Games, which begin Feb. 9.

“South Korea wants more than a million spectators … and expects 70 percent to be locals,” according to USA Today. “But if South Koreans are excited about the Games, they didn't fully show it during the first phase of ticket sales between February and June — the 52,000 tickets purchased by locals during the period were less than 7 percent of the 750,000 seats organizers aim to sell domestically.

“International sales got off to a faster start with more than half of the targeted 320,000 seats sold,” the paper reports. “But now there’s fear that an increasingly belligerent North Korea, which has tested two ICBMs and its strongest ever nuclear bomb in recent weeks, might keep foreign fans away from PyeongChang.”

There’s reason for optimism, though: South Korean Olympic organizers reopened online ticket sales on Sept. 5, according to Voice of America, and locals scooped up almost 17,000 tickets in two days. In addition, the Korean Federation of Banks has announced it will purchase nearly $1M worth of tickets.

“Buying tickets was considered one of the ways to support the Olympic Games, considering the recent slow ticket sales,” Federation official Shon Kyung-ae told Reuters. The Federation also announced it would donate a further $17.5 million to Pyeongchang 2018 organisers to help the running of the Games.

“As part of our social responsibility efforts, the Federation has decided to support the Games, which will be an opportunity to improve the country’s global image,” a statement noted.

 

The International Olympic Committee awarded South Korea the Winter Games in 2011 — long before North Korea began making repeated overtures toward nuclear war.

South Korea is expected to spend about $12.4 billion on the Games, including $9.7 billion on roads, railways and stadiums.

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