VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - Organizers of next year’s Winter Olympics in Vancouver dismissed criticism on Wednesday over ticket sales in the United States, and particularly in the nearby U.S. Pacific Northwest.
The Vancouver Organizing Committee said it has also settled a lawsuit against a Canadian tour firm that organizers had alleged was improperly obtaining tickets for resale.
Media reports in Seattle, Washington, which is only a few hours’ drive from Vancouver, have been critical of the terms of ticket sales in the United States, alleging they are too difficult for the average public to buy.
U.S. sales are handled by Jetset Sports, a firm authorized by the U.S. Olympic Committee, and a long-time Olympic sponsor.
National Olympic committees are allowed to sell tickets at higher than face value to raise money. However, VANOC has no control over foreign sales programs and can only sell tickets within Canada.
“Jetset’s activities in the United States are based entirely on a contract they have entered into with the United States Olympic Committee,” Dave Cobb, VANOC’s executive vice-president told reporters.
Cobb said VANOC allocated five times as many tickets for sale in the United States than were allocated for Canada in the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, which drew heavy demand from Canadians.
About 50,000 tickets were originally allocated to the United States, and that figure has been increased to close to 90,000 has more seating became available, Cobb said.
“We think we have been very fair with what we allocated there,” he said.
Vancouver organizers also said they had settled a lawsuit filed as part of a battle against unauthorized ticket sales.
Tickets to the Games are not supposed to be resold except through VANOC and the sponsor company handling its re-sale program -- a system organizers say is aimed at protecting the public against fraud.
VANOC sued Roadtrips Inc, a Canadian firm that was offering tickets as part of its tour packages. Organizers alleged the tickets had been obtained improperly through the resale market. Roadtrips had counter-sued VANOC and Jetset, alleging unfair business practices.
Terms of the court settlement have not been released, but Roadtrips has agreed to buy tickets only through a provider authorized by VANOC, said Cobb.
Roadtrips had said in court documents that it was selling tickets bought from VANOC by its employees, and through a ticket broker in the Netherlands whose source has not been disclosed.
VANOC officials have complained that an unnamed national Olympic committee was improperly reselling some tickets it was provided under an agreement with the International Olympic Committee.
Reporting by Allan Dowd; editing by Rob Wilson