Rio de Janeiro’s mayor has advised it’s best not to buy tickets for rowing events at the Olympics – but instead find a spot near the venue and watch the competition for free.
After handing over the Deodoro Sports Complex to 2016 Olympic organisers, Rio mayor Eduardo Paes said that if he were a regular citizen he would say to residents “do not spend your money on this [rowing]”.
“Go watch at the border of the lagoon, drinking your beer in peace with your family. Put your beach chair there because you will watch rowing for free,” Paes said.
Paes’ comments came as the International Olympics Committee revealed fewer than half the tickets for the 2016 Games have been sold with about five months to go until the opening ceremony.
A total of 7.5 million tickets were issued for the August 5-21 Games and “about 47 per cent have been sold,” Rio 2016 communications director Mario Andrada said on Wednesday.
Brazil has been struggling with political turmoil, an economic downturn and the mosquito-borne Zika virus, which have all hampered preparations for the Games awarded to Rio in 2009.
Andrada said ticket revenues had reached 74 per cent – or US$194 million (NZ$292m) – of the overall target, mainly due to more expensive passes to premium events and the opening ceremony having been sold already.
The 2012 Olympics in London reached its revenue target from ticket sales months before the start due to huge initial demand and more than a million applicants missed out.
London eventually sold 8.2 million out of the 8.5 million tickets issued for the Games.
Organisers are also increasing water testing at Guanabara Bay, where sailing and swimming events will be held, and the lagoon that will host rowing and canoeing events in an effort to monitor water pollution there, a major concern for athletes.
Water tests will be conducted at the two sites every two days from April onwards, with daily tests planned throughout the Olympics.
“What we are promising we are doing,” Games chief Carlos Nuzman said.
“All venues are almost around 95 per cent ready. The velodrome [for cycling] needs a little more but it will be ready… at the end of April.”
Abridged and originally published at http://www.stuff.co.nz/sport/other-sports/77491543/Rio-Olympics-tickets-selling-slow-with-fewer-than-half-sold-five-months-out