TOKYO – Frustrated residents of Japan will get another shot at attending next year's Tokyo Olympics when organizers on Friday put more than 1 million tickets into the latest lottery.
Tokyo has generated unprecedented ticket demand inside and outside Japan. Organizers say 3.57 million tickets have already been awarded to Japan residents in two lotteries.
Organizers have repeatedly declined to say how many tickets have been sought. But demand is believed to be at least 10 times over supply— probably more — with widespread complaints about the scarcity.
"We have been doing our best to meet people's expectations as much as possible," Tokyo ticket director Hidenori Suzuki told Associated Press. "But unfortunately, we have a limited number of seats."
Suzuki acknowledged he's received repeated requests to disclose the level of ticket demand. He said he hoped to do that sometime after the latest lottery ends. It opens on Wednesday and runs until Nov. 26, with results announced in mid-December.
The demand has driven up hotel prices and even created concerns about how Tokyo's efficient train system will handle the July 24 to Aug. 9 games.
Organizers say 7.8 million tickets are available for next year's games. They say at least 70% will go to the general Japanese public, which would be about 5.5 million. The rest are sold outside Japan, or allotted to sponsors, national Olympic committees or the IOC, or international sports federations.
Suzuki was also imprecise about the number of tickets available this time.
"We haven't decided exactly how many yet," he said. "It's not going to be way above 1 million."
Jonathan Jensen, who studies sports marketing at the University of North Carolina, said Tokyo organizers have a reason to be vague about ticket numbers.
"It's about the potential embarrassment that very few tickets will actually be part of a public sale," Jensen said in recent email to AP. "And uncertainty around how many tickets need to be held back to ensure commitments to sponsors and others."
More than 60 companies have signed up as local Olympics sponsors, generating just over $3 billion and shattering all records for local sponsorship.
"When you have so many sponsors you have very large guarantees to deliver tickets to them as part of their sponsorship packages," Jensen wrote.
This is the last exclusive chance for residents of Japan. Another ticket offering in the spring will be open to Japan and non-Japan residents on a first-come, first-serve basis.
This is the first time tickets for boxing are included in the Japan lottery.
The International Olympic Committee stripped the boxing body AIBA of the right to organize the tournament, citing corruption in finance, refereeing, and judging. The IOC is now organizing the tournament after a long delay.
Tickets will be unavailable for the marathons. The IOC, citing Tokyo's summer heat, is moving that event to the northern city of Sapporo against the wishes of Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike.
It's unclear where the marathons will be run in Sapporo, and if people who bought tickets to see the finish inside Tokyo's new national stadium will get refunds.
Organizers hope to raise about $800 million in ticket sales. This revenue makes up a large part of the privately funded operating budget of $5.6 billion.
A national government audit report last year said Tokyo would spend about $25 billion to organize the Olympics, all of which is public money except for the operating budget funding.
Organizers dispute the figure and say it's half that much, part of a debate about what are — and are not — Olympic expenses.