Before the next round of public ticket sales this summer, the Paris 2024 Olympic Games’ organizers responded to complaints about the high pricing, stating they were reasonable and necessary for keeping the event’s budget in check.
After two rounds of sales, disappointment over the availability of tickets has increased in France in recent weeks. During these sales, a widely publicized release of nearly 1 million tickets at a cost of €24 apiece swiftly sold out, while seats at many marquee events, such as gymnastics, cost hundreds of euros.
Nearly a year after the opening ceremony at the end of July, some French sportsmen have also voiced their disapproval of the pricing, which is one of the first notable indicators of popular backlash.
The costs for premium seats were comparable to those for tickets to the 2012 London Olympics, according to ministers and organizers, who claimed that several million tickets were initially available for less than €50 but were swiftly sold out. They were required to fund the event and subsidize less expensive locations.
The director of the Paris 2024 organizing committee, Tony Estanguet, told reporters on Tuesday that there was “certainly some frustration.” However, he added, “we knew from the beginning we would not be able to respond to demand.”
Three-time Olympic champion and slalom canoeist Estanguet claimed that the general public’s view of ticket costs did not accurately represent the fact that only 5% of them cost more than €400.
“It does not provide an answer to the thousands of people who would have wanted more affordable tickets, but not everyone can have access to all categories in all sporting events,” he said.
Despite complaints about the prices, the organizers said that 5.2 million of the 8 million tickets available to the general public had already been sold. Without altering the pricing structures, Estanguet said the remaining content will be made available over the summer.
Amélie Oudéa-Castéra, the minister of sports, has also justified the price ranges, claiming on Sunday that France had tried to avoid “a Games tax” and that the occasion needed to be as self-sufficient as possible.
The organizers’ attempt to position 2024 as “the people’s Games” with a focus on making the event accessible to everyone has contributed to some of the criticism over tickets. This has backfired, with organizers now attempting to minimize their reliance on public funds in order to finance an event they have committed to funding.
“The difference with other Olympics is that they’ve stressed so much that it’s the people’s Games, and the Games just aren’t. Like Roland Garros or the Champions League, these are not events at €15 a ticket,” said David Roizen, a sports commentator and analyst.
The organizers’ budget for the 2024 Games climbed by 10% to €4.4 billion last year. A little bit more than a third, which is more than the London Olympics, is anticipated to come from ticket sales and hospitality. The remaining is roughly split between sponsorships and financing from the International Olympic Committee, a list of which the organizers are still seeking to expand.
The whole cost of the event, including the cost of building structures like the Olympic Village, will be just around €9 billion.
The outcry was immediate after the most recent wave of tickets became available in May. Tickets for well-attended events like the women’s team gymnastics final went for €690 each, while mid-round tennis singles tickets cost roughly €130.
One of the athletes who provided input was Amandine Buchard, a judoka from Martinique who took home a silver medal at the 2021 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
“Olympic Games for all, you said. Actually, we’re going to have to take loans out so that our families and loved ones can come to watch us,” she said on Twitter.
Since then, the organizers have made it clear that athletes will be given a certain number of tickets for their families.
The opening ceremony, which features more than a hundred boats traveling down the Seine, will also have several hundred thousand free tickets made available, the interior ministry, which manages security for the Games, announced on Tuesday. Prices for the 100,000 paying attendees at the ceremony will range from €80 to €2,700.