Sochi still scrambling to sell Olympic tickets

Sochi still scrambling to sell Olympic tickets

Credit: Getty Images

ADLER, RUSSIA - JANUARY 08: The Olympic Rings stand outside of Sochi International Airport on January 8, 2014 in Alder, Russia. The region will host the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics which start on February 6th, 2014. (Photo by Michael Heiman/Getty Images)

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Associated Press

Posted on January 21, 2014 at 7:02 AM

Updated Tuesday, Jan 21 at 12:46 PM

LONDON (AP) — The prospect looms of empty seats and a lack of atmosphere at Russia's first Winter Olympics, with hundreds of thousands of tickets still unsold and just three weeks to go.

There are signs that many foreign fans are turned off by terrorist threats, expensive flights and hotels, long travel distances, a shortage of tourist attractions and the hassle of obtaining visas and spectator passes.

Sochi organizers say 70 percent of tickets have been sold for the games, which represent a symbol of pride and prestige for Russia and President Vladimir Putin.

Attracting foreign visitors also has been a challenge amid all the headlines about Russia's law banning gay "propaganda" and other human rights issues.

Russia's organizing committee chief says strong last-minute sales are expected.

According to IOC marketing documents seen by the AP, Sochi offered 1.1 million tickets. That would mean about 300,000 tickets remain available.

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