The 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea has experienced a range of battles leading up to the opening ceremony on February 9th. The South Korean Olympic Committee has been facing a variety of hurdles many of which have been caused by external factors.
The 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics has seen a significant amount of coverage with much of this being negative. One area which has gained a significant amount of headlines is the lacklustre ticket sales. Global news outlets have covered the struggle South Korea’s Olympic committee has been facing with it being previously reported that as of December 2017 only 55% of their sales target had been sold. Local purchases have been minimal. This is an area which the country hopes will see substantial growth over the next few weeks as the competition gets closer.
Unlike previous competitions, in recent years the venues and athletes living quarters have been completed since December. This has given organisers a kind of breathing space which was unavailable and needed in both the Sochi, Russia Winter Olympics 2014 and Rio Janeiro, Brazil Summer Olympic Games. An innovation which is hoped will increase ticket sales and fan engagement from native residents is the high-speed rail link which was opened to the public on the 22nd December. This travel improvement will now allow individuals to travel from the capital to Pyeongchang in just 67 minutes compared to the previous three hours. It is hoped that with the new rail link, ticket sales will start to pick up and help them reach their sales target of 1.06 million.
South Korea had hoped the Olympics would attract an influx of foreign visitors helping to increase economic growth and winter sports in Asia. Instead, military tensions with North Korea has had a damping effect on the sales growth and this has undoubtedly contributed to slow ticket sales due to foreign visitors questioning their safety. Not only have spectators expressed concerns, so have athletes and governing bodies with France’s sports minister going as far as stating ‘the nation would skip the Olympics if security “cannot be assured.” With North Korea’s announcement stating their willingness to participate in the tournament this week, many will be hoping that this minimises security tensions and helps diminish any concerns previously held by supporters, participants and governing bodies.
To help build awareness there has been a range of sponsorship deals signed over the last few weeks with hopes that these will boost both ticket sales and TV coverage of events. The Winter Olympics will be shown on all major broadcasting channels around the world, it is also expected to be the most digital Winter Olympics ever with global streams being shown live on a range of social platforms. A range of companies called the Korean Employee Federation agreed to support the upcoming games through sponsoring events and purchasing ticket packages for their employees, according to South Korean news agency Yonhap. The only worry with such an agreement is if seats are sold but not filled leaving the stadiums looking empty causing uproar much like the Olympic Games in Brazil.
One thing is for sure, as the Winter Olympic fever picks up, and as more countries announce their teams which include some of the top sports stars of the moment such as Chloe Kim, Katie Ormerod and Lindsey Vonn it would be expected that fans delve into their pockets and book themselves a potential trip of a lifetime to watch some spectacular high flying action.