Athletes have added their voice to an uproar around ticket prices for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, claiming the high cost contradicts organizers' promise that events would be accessible for everyone.
Two-thirds of tickets in the second phase of sales were snapped up within hours of going up for sale on May 11. Nearly 1.5 million additional individual tickets were made available, after more than 3 million were sold as multi-event packs during the first phase, reported the Agence France-Presse, or AFP.
"Frankly it started very strong, almost too much so. It's proof of the huge enthusiasm," the organizing committee said.
Of the 1 million lowest-priced seats promised at 24 euros ($26),150,000 were offered in phase two. However, those tickets sold out fast and prices rose substantially. Just three days after phase two started, tickets for the athletics semifinals cost up to 980 euros and opening ceremony tickets reached 2,700 euros.
The exorbitant prices conflict with the "Games for all" promised by Paris 2024 chief Tony Estanguet, a former champion slalom canoeist.
Estanguet has previously stated tickets were cheaper than at the London 2012 Games, however, critics have noted that double the amount of low-cost tickets were available in London, reported The Times newspaper.
As was seen in the first phase of sales, there has been an explosion of vocal protest, particularly on social media.
Athletes have expressed scorn over the prices. Belgian Nafissatou Thiam, a two-time Olympic heptathlon champion, told Belgian media DH: "I'm not even sure that my family will be able to come to see me, it's so expensive." French judoka Amandine Buchard, a world bronze medalist, blasted organizers on Twitter: "Olympic Games accessible to all, you said... In fact, you have to take out a bank loan so that families and loved ones can have the chance to come and see us…Well at least if by then there are still tickets."
Politician Alexis Corbiere, a member of Parliament with the Unbowed France party, last week noted that 2,700 euros for the opening show was more than double the French monthly minimum wage.
"For these 2024 Games, the important thing is not to take part but to be one of the richest people on this planet," he tweeted.
Estanguet said organizers had expected the criticism. He said: "We were warned that the sales periods were a difficult time. But we underestimated the scale."
Athletics, basketball, beach volleyball, football, and tennis were the top five ticket sellers in the second phase. A third round of ticket sales, with an additional 3.5 million tickets, is expected to begin at the end of this year. Organizers predict total ticket sales of 1.4 billion euros.