SOCHI, Russia — Sochi is a remote area that can be a challenge to get to, even in Russia, where it's a 39-hour train ride from the capital of Moscow. Still, the Olympic Games have managed to attract a crowd.
The 1-millionth Olympic Park ticket was sold in Sochi this past weekend. Even though empty seats can be seen at some of the venues during competitions, organizers say ticket sales are meeting expectations.
Ticket prices depend on the individual event and how close to the athletes spectators want to sit. Cheap tickets for events that are not as popular can sell for as little as $20. But a front-row seat to a big event like USA-Russia hockey reportedly sells for $1,600.
There has been a steady line of customers at ticket counters throughout Olympic Park. However, they're mostly Russian citizens. Russia's Olympic organizers have said 70 percent of the tickets sold have been bought by Russians.
Sochi is a difficult place to get to, keeping many fans throughout the world home. They need a travel visa and a spectator pass just to get into the park.
Still, during peak hours of competition, arenas have been packed. Sochi's director of ticket sales, Dmitry Perlin, said venues have been averaging 90 percent attendance.
With some sports, people arrive but can't sit down right away.
"For some sports like figure skating, people can be late. If you’re late even one minute, we’re trying to minimize movement during the beginning of the session,” he explained. “That’s a sport requirement. So, there can be several reasons, but in general we really are satisfied with overall attendance.
“You have to take into consideration the whole period, not just some specific moment in time,” he added.
Perlin said perception can lead to the impression that ticket sales are slow. People tend to remember pictures of empty seats more than full seats, he said.