By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard
It’s been pretty obvious if you have been paying attention, empty seats at the Olympics. The Wall Street Journal ran a piece on it and from most accounts, it’s pretty bad. While people can point to various reasons why, it seems pretty obvious, cost.
According to the Journal’s article, ticket prices range from $88 a piece for the taekwondo to $434 for the women’s basketball gold medal game. Apparently 70% of the tickets went to Brazil for the games. A country with an impeached president, an economy that contracted 3.8% last year and where the average monthly income is $678. When you look at it that way, of course there are empty seats.
This is no knock on Brazil. They are only guilty of buying into the International Olympic Committee (IOC) hype. ‘Bring the Olympics and look at all the money you’ll make!’ ‘Showcase your city to the world!’
If you haven’t read Andrew Zimbalist’s ‘Circus Maximus’ then go read it now. The Olympics folks is not about the athletes and it’s not even about the economic benefits to the city. It’s about a couple of people making money. The really sad part is that the residents of the city that’s hosts the games are the ones picking up the bill for the cost overruns.
ESPN’s FiveThirtyEight posted an article called ‘Hosting The Olympics Is A Terrible Investment.’ They point out that the Rio games are only 50% over budget. 50%! They say only 50% because that is on the low end. Brazil has been hit hard economically and there is no disposable income to spend on rhythmic gymnastics.
Just to pour a little more gasoline on the fire, today an IOC executive was taken to the hospital after police carried out a raid at his beachfront house as part of an investigation into, essentially, ticket scalping.
Ticket prices are high to see Usain Bolt or Katie Ledecky fade their competition because the IOC needs to make the money. If the average person can’t afford it than the IOC will shrug it’s shoulders and say ‘oh well’. It’s not fair to the athletes to compete in half empty venues and it’s not fair to some of the fans who want to go but can’t afford it. But in reality, what does the IOC care when they have executives accused of selling tickets above face value and collecting 70% of the revenue from TV deals anyway?
And people wonder why there are empty seats.