Are Olympics fans saying "nyet" to the Sochi Games?

With just weeks to go before the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, ticket sales for many events could apparently use a lift. 

Tickets for many in-demand events are still available, including the opening ceremony and ice hockey games between the Russian and U.S. teams, for example. On top of that, fans are looking to sell unneeded tickets to other fans, adding to the availability of seats for events ranging from cross-country skiing to ski jumping.

The secondary market for Sochi tickets could signal that some sports fans may have had second thoughts about attending. Some buyers may have hoped to resell their tickets at higher prices later, but so far that gambit appears to be failing. 

For North American sports fans, several issues might be coming into play. Security is a major concern, with Russia planning on the tightest security ever given terrorist attacks in the region over the last few years. 

Security fears have prompted NBC, which is airing the games for U.S. viewers, to beef up security. "There are a lot of groups that would like to take advantage of the Olympics to make a point, whether it is a positive point or a negative point, so we go there with our eyes wide open," NBC's Matt Lauer told Capital New York earlier this month

Even NBC is planning on sending fewer staff to the event than it did to the last two Olympic games, held in London and Vancouver, Capital New York notes. The reason? Sochi's remote location, which makes it difficult to reach and adds to the expense.

The cheapest flights from New York to Sochi are going for about $3,000, according to Expedia. Add in the cost of hotels, transportation and tickets, and the total cost could easily double. 

"It is difficult to compare demand for different editions of the Games because they all present different factors that affect sales," a spokesman for CoSport, the exclusive ticket agent for North America and many European countries, told CBS MoneyWatch in an email. "You only really can compare the end result with what you projected going-in based on experience. In this light, over the seven countries in which we sell tickets and packages, we experienced demand at expected levels."

It's hard to compare how many Americans are attending the Sochi games compared with previous Olympic venues, CoSport notes. "There are a number of variables that influence how many U.S. fans attend, from travel distance to economic conditions," the spokesman wrote. 

The Sochi organizing committee didn't immediately return an email seeking comment about ticket sales.

Currently, though, there's another roadblock for would-be attendees: CoSport has suspended Sochi 2014 individual ticket sales until Jan. 20 in order to reconcile inventory. "We do this regularly throughout the sales process, and at this point, this is normal as operations are preparing to shift to being on-site in Sochi," the spokesman for CoSport said. 

"Anyone interested in extra tickets should keep checking back," he added. 

Given the available supply, chances are fans will still have their choice.

  • Aimee Picchi

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