Brazil Can't Sell Tickets to the Olympics

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Who wants to go to the Summer Olympics in Rio? Apparently, nobody. With five months to go and prices falling, Brazilian organizers still can’t seem to sell tickets for South America’s first Olympic Games, and that’s a problem.

Though the IOC president expects locals will buy up last-minute tickets, the country’s significantly behind in ticket sales. Mario Andrada, a Rio de Janiero committee spokesman, told the AP only 47 percent of the 7.5 million tickets (but $194 million or 74 percent of the revenue target) has been sold so far. Compare this number to the two most recent Summer Games. The 2012 London Games had essentially sold out by the start of February—with only tickets available, surprisingly, to soccer—and similarly, 2008 Beijing Olympics saw crowds of 30,000 swarming to purchase tickets for the Olympiad, though these games reportedly sold out in July.

Why the apparent hesitation?

For starters, the country is currently the epicenter of Zika, the mosquito-born virus that’s linked to babies born with abnormally small heads. Though the World Health Organization (WHO) believes athletes and fans should not fear the traveling to the games, the lack of a vaccine, diagnostic test and therapeutic interventions certainly startles spectators and competitors alike, and since the outbreak of Zika in Brazil garnered international attention, according to Ticketbis, ticket price revenue has dropped over 56 percent.

But public health and empty stadiums aren’t the only major concern for Rio. At the moment, Brazil’s in the midst of its worst economic recession since the 1930s, and based on recent stories about contaminated water, the link between Zika and birth defects and the ongoing doping drama, the city’s games seem more like a PR nightmare than a tourism opportunity.

The Rio Olympics are scheduled for August 5-21, and, if you haven’t already guessed, plenty of tickets are on sale at an average of $18.

Tom is a travel writer, part-time hitchhiker, and he’s currently trying to imitate Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? but with more sunscreen and jorts.

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