Winter Oly ticket sales low amid tensions

Ticket sales for the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics are slow amid an increasingly turbulent time on the Korean peninsula.

With five months to go until the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics open, organisers are struggling to sell tickets.

Amid a torrent of North Korean weapons tests there are concerns spectators will stay away from the ski resort town about 80 km south of the world's most heavily armed border.

Organisers want more than one million spectators for the Games, which start in February, with hopes of selling 70 per cent of tickets to locals.

In the first phase of ticket sales from February to June, only 52,000 tickets were snaffled up by locals, less than 7 per cent of the 750,000 seats they aim to sell domestically.

International ticket sales have been steady, with more than half of the targeted 320,000 seats sold.

Lee Hee-beom, president of Pyeongchang's organising committee, said the clearest way to ease worries about North Korea was for the hermit state to send athletes to the Games.

This is not yet clear, though given North Korea is traditionally weak at winter sports.

Organisers will closely watch a September figure-skating competition in Germany featuring the North Korean pair of Ryom Tae Ok and Kim Ju Sik.

They represent North Korea's best shot at qualifying for the Olympics, which would likely require a top four finish in Germany.

If the North Koreans fail to qualify, South Korea and the IOC will discuss other ways to secure the North's participation, such as granting special entries in some sports, Lee said.

After taking office in May, South Korean President Moon Jae-in vowed to use the Olympics to try to ease animosities with the North.

But his engagement efforts have crumbled amid North Korean nuclear and missile tests.

IOC President Thomas Bach said last month there was "no reason for any immediate concern" about tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

That was the week before North Korea fired a potentially nuclear capable intermediate range missile over northern Japan on August 29 and then conducted its sixth nuclear test on September 3.

2 min read
Published 12 September 2017 at 6:54pm
Source: AAP