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Hefty $10,000 price tag for Sochi Olympic tickets

by Anna Arutunyan at 10/06/2013 16:30

Planning on attending the Winter Olympics in Sochi? It could cost you about $10,000 – or even more, depending on the kind of package you end up getting.

Jet Set Sports, the official partner of the 2014 Sochi Olympics, has released prices for ticket and hotel packages on its site, www.jetsetsports.ru. Tickets and four nights in a hotel for the hockey tournament go for 266,642 rubles (about $8,600) for one person and 445,476 rubles ($14,370) for two. The most expensive, week-long package costs 440,000 for one person and 670,000 for two.

The cheapest cost just over 81,000 ($2,613), but a spokesperson for Jet Set Sports could not say what was included in the cost. According to the spokesperson, who said he could not be identified because he was not authorized to speak on the matter, the ticket and hotel was not even the main factor in the price, it was “hospitality – the things that are custom-tailored to the client.”

What the package certainly does not include is airfare or train tickets to Sochi. Current dates for Aeroflot go for about 9,500 rubles (about $300) roundtrip, while the cost of train tickets totals around 13,000 rubles (about $420). But air tickets for international guests could hike up the tab further by hundreds of dollars.

According to the Jet Set Sports spokesman, the prices are mainly oriented towards what he called the premium sector, rather than the “average person.” Those looking for more affordable prices, he said, could buy tickets and make hotel reservations independently.

That, however, is already becoming a problem.  According to the Vedomosti daily, no hotel in Sochi is making reservations for the dates of the games, and the closest hotel where it is possible to book a room is 50 kilometers away.

Tickets, too, are pricey: according to Vedomosti, the most expensive goes for 182,000 rubles ($5,870), and the cheapest is 38,000 rubles ($1,225).

Meanwhile, the official Olympic Games site, which sells the tickets, says that the first phase of ticket sales is over, and the next phase has yet to begin.

By contrast, tickets for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics sold for $350-$775 in 2009, according to The Seattle Times – and even that sparked complaints, due to the hike from initial promises of just $29. Incidentally, Jet Set Sports in New Jersey was reportedly granted nearly three times as many tickets as the US general public, the newspaper reported.

Asked about the difference in cost, the Jet Set Sports spokesman said that the Sochi prices were actually more affordable than in Vancouver, because they included different varieties of additional services. Asked about airline tickets and hotel bookings without additional services, the spokesman suggested that visitors book hotels independently.

The cost of the Sochi Winter Olympics has been at the center of a number of controversies recently, with North Caucasus Resorts, a company involved in the project, facing charges of embezzling some $8.8 million.

In April, an investigation was opened into alleged spending violations by Akhmed Bilalov, the former vice-president of Russia’s Olympic Committee. Bilalov was accused of spending more than $97,000 of the company’s funds on luxury foreign travel.

Critics, meanwhile, have alleged that more than half of Sochi’s total budget of $50 billion may have been embezzled.

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