As my home town prepares to welcome the world for the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games, travellers may be looking to pick up some tickets before they arrive.
If you are Canadian and looking for official tickets you are probably too late as most of the event tickets in Vancouver have been spoken for in 3 or 4 previous rounds of lottery and first come first serve sales. A quick check of the official ticket site shows that there are a few tickets left for some preliminary curling and preliminary hockey events but not much else. There are some Whistler event tickets left but they’ve restricted those to Whistler residents only to minimize highway congestion.
International visitors have been directed to check with their local National Olympic Committees or official ticket agencies. A listing is provided at the Vancouver 2010 ticket site. A quick peek at a sample of those sites shows that most of these international ticket sellers are also sold out.
In the US they have stopped selling tickets and are now assigning tickets to people who have ordered them, although they state that more tickets may become available this month. The Hong Kong site doesn’t actually seem to have any reference at all to Olympics tickets. The Ireland site has some tickets available for opening and closing ceremonies, but my random sample of events did not turn up any other available tickets.
Those who do not yet have tickets are then left with a few options including Craigslist, Ebay, and unofficial ticket brokers (aka scalpers). Of course none of these options are officially sanctioned by the Vancouver Olympic Committee (VanOC) and they are quick to warn you that buying tickets from unofficial sources could result in your receiving fake tickets. I have heard that some ticket brokers are offering authenticity guarantees, but in the unlikely event that you do get fakes you might get your money back but would still miss out on the event.
If the possibility of getting stuck with fake tickets concerns you VanOC is offering a Fan2Fan ticket exchange system. This works pretty much the same way that the Ticketmaster Ticket Exchange program works. People who have bought tickets directly from VanOC in a previous buying round can then put those tickets up for sale and purchasers can print out brand new authentic tickets.
The benefit to the seller is that you don’t have to do the legwork of arranging a meeting time/place to do the exchange, and the benefit to the buyer is that they are getting guaranteed official tickets. As there is no free lunch here, VanOC is taking a 10% commission off of the listed price from from the seller and charging an additional 10% service charge to the buyer in exchange for these conveniences.
Here is a sample price comparison for tickets from a few different sources (in Canadian dollars unless otherwise specified):
– Opening Ceremonies $750 – $2500
– Men’s Gold Medal Hockey (various categories) $2000 to $3000
– Figure skating (various events) – $1000
Ebay (Buy it now prices)
– Opening Ceremonies US$800 – $2500
– Mens Gold Medal hockey US$3000 – US$3500
– Figure Skating Ladies “Gold Medal” – US$2500
– Opening Ceremonies $1450 – $2450
– Mens Gold Medal Hockey $3265 – $5360
– Figure Skating Ladies “Medal sessions” $1560 – $3210
– Opening Ceremonies $750 – $2000 (+10%)
– Men’s Gold Medal Hockey $1600 – $3000 (+10%)
– Figure Skating Ladies “Short Program” $400 – $1000 (+10%)
Based on this off the cuff sample it really looks like the VanOC Fan2Fan site tickets aren’t going for much more than the other options and in some cases are going for less. Given that these tickets are known to be authentic because you are buying them directly from VanOC, this would seem to be a good place to start looking for tickets.