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Tokyo Olympics offer ‘second-chance’ lottery for Japan fans

July 5, 2019
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FILE - In this June 11, 2019, file photo, a man walks past the Tokyo 2020 Olympic logos, in Tokyo. Tokyo Olympic organizers say they are putting an unspecified “hundreds of thousands” of tickets into a lottery next month for Japan residents who were shut out when results of the first lottery were announced in June. On Friday, July 5, organizers said 3.22 million tickets were sold to Japan residents in the first lottery. They said more than 90% bought tickets the tickets were awarded in the lottery.(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

TOKYO (AP) — Tokyo Olympic organizers are putting “a few hundred-thousand” tickets into a lottery next month for Japan residents who were shut out when results of the first lottery were announced in June.

The new “second-chance” lottery is being organized on short notice because of unprecedented demand in Japan. Demand is believed to be at least 10 times over supply — probably more. It means few in the host country who want tickets can get them.

Organizing committee spokesman Masa Takaya on Friday said 3.22 million tickets were sold to Japan residents in the first lottery. He said more than 90 percent of applicants bought the tickets that they were awarded. He said only the unsold tickets would be those offered in the next round.

Tokyo organizers are trying to satisfy the Japanese public. But there simply aren’t enough Olympic tickets to go around with demand soaring. Authorized Ticket Resellers — the Olympic agents contracted to sell tickets outside Japan — have also opened sales worldwide and are experiencing unprecedented demand and some delays in getting tickets.

The overall numbers suggest that Japan residents may get fewer than 50 percent of the 7.8 million tickets that organizers say are available for all events.

The rest are for sale outside Japan, or go to sponsors, national Olympic committees, sports federations, and dignitaries.

Tokyo is a reversal from recent Olympics when tickets were unsold and many events were poorly attended. That won’t be the case with 35 million people in Greater Tokyo looking to attend.

Tickets sales are projected to raise about $800 million for the organizing committee’s operating budget of $5.6 billion. The largest source of income for the privately funded budget is a record-setting $3 billion paid by more than 60 local Japanese sponsors, all of whom will be looking for tickets.

The short supply is sure to drive scalping.

Japan passed a law last month that prohibits ticket scalping with a 1 million yen ($9,100) fine and a one-year jail term — or both.

However, the law has large loopholes and does not apply to tickets distributed for free or given away as gifts, or tickets without a purchaser’s name. This applies to many tickets coming from the International Olympic Committee, the 206 national Olympic committees, or major sponsors.

The IOC was embarrassed three years ago in Rio de Janeiro when IOC member Patrick Hickey was arrested on charges of ticket scalping. He has denied any wrongdoing.

StubHub, an online ticket exchange company based in the United States, has handled tickets for previous Olympics. It is critical of the new Japanese scalping law, which might affect StubHub’s ability to handle tickets this time.

“Unfortunately, the Japanese law is flawed in its attempt to artificially control the ticket marketplace, and fans will likely be negatively impacted,” Jill Krimmel, general manager for sports for StubHub, told The Associated Press. “Instead, StubHub believes that a safe, transparent, and competitive marketplace best serves fans and the games.”

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