Olympics Planning 101: Getting Olympics Tickets
Olympics Planning 101 starts with the one thing on everybody’s mind right now…Tickets. The demand to attend the Tokyo 2020 Olympics is unprecedented. If you are interested in attending, you’ve read article after article about how it is impossible to get Olympics tickets. It may discourage you from looking for tickets to the Olympics. Turns out this is false.
If you are informed having a loaded Olympic schedule can be relatively painless.
Can I Even Afford Olympics Tickets?
I always imagined attending the Olympics was an unobtainable goal. I felt that I had to either be extremely wealthy or related to an athlete to attend. When I looked into it I found out that tickets to the Olympics are a lot less expensive than I expected. Prices vary by the perceived popularity of the event and whether a medal is on the line. With Olympics tickets for event prelims starting at $25, you can put together a nice Olympics schedule without digging too deep into your savings.
Step 1: Know Which ATRs You Can Use
The only places you can legally buy Tokyo 2020 Olympics tickets are through Authorized Ticket Resellers (ATR). So you really need to know your ATR. ATRs are determined by country and can be found here, but among the biggest ones are:
- CoSport: USA, Australia, and most most of Europe
- Kingdom Sports Group: Most of Asia
- Cartan: Mexico, Central America, South America, and the Caribean
- Match Hospitality: Brazil and Russia
Most people believe you can only buy Olympics tickets from the ATR of your home country. However, getting tickets is all about cleverness. If you can identify other ATRs you can purchase from you open up more options, and more options means more tickets. Generally, you can buy tickets from an ATR if:
- you are a resident of a country;
- you are a citizen of a country and have an in country mailing address; and
- you are an EU citizen you are legally entitled to buy from any EU member country’s ATR.
But that is not all. As you know, the Olympics are global, so use your global connections. You can expand the ATRs you can purchase from by reaching out to those you trust. Family and friends in other countries can purchase tickets for you and forward them along to you once they receive them. The only risk to this is Time. Olympics tickets are set to ship out in June, but we don’t know exactly when in June. If it ends up being late June, there crunch forwarding your tickets. This is a risk many are willing to take.
Step 2: Follow your ATR and don’t get discouraged
In an ideal world, you should start Olympics ticket planning 18 months before the Olympic Games. Follow your ATRs and watch for announcements of when sales go live. Most ATRs tend to have three types of sales.
The Request Lottery
The very first sales of Olympics tickets are made in the request lottery. Plan for this being about 12-18 months before the opening ceremony. CoSport started the 2020 process in May 2019 (14 months out). At this point the ATR allows each of its users to request a limited number of events and they award tickets via lottery.
Personally, I find this sale to be the most interesting. A request lottery is all about strategy. Most people will request the big ticket events such as the opening ceremony, gymnastics, and swimming. This results in most people getting nothing. I know I didn’t get anything, and it turns out CoSport did not award anyone opening ceremony tickets. The people who have the most success in this phase are the ones that request the lowerdemand events that they have interest in. If you think about it this makes sense. The less people who apply for tickets the more likely you are to win the lottery. Take a look at Kingdom’s Published Results (click to enlarge).
The lowest chance at winning (.76%) was their number one requested event, Badminton (it is really popular in Asia). While sports like Cycling, weightlifting, sailing, and rowing had over 50% probability of winning. During this phase think through your options, be smart about which events you request, and maybe open your mind to something new. Most importantly if you do not get Olympics tickets in a request lottery don’t be discouraged. When it comes down to it you can be as strategic as possible, but it is about luck. By far, I have been far more successful on the other two types of sales.
The Live Sale
So you struck out in the request lottery. Join the club; most of us did. The live sale your odds get better in a live sale. Even after the initial request phase, the Olympic Organizing Committees are continuously releasing Olympics tickets to the ATRs who need to sell them. Upon receiving a larger allocation the bigger ATRs, such as CoSport, will announce a live sale.
A live sale happens when the ATR announces a time they are going to release a large amount of tickets for sale to the general public. As CoSport is the main place I can buy tickets, I will use them as an example. Representing EU, USA, and Australia their site can get mobbed in crash. In order to handle the traffic, they request that you get to the website about 30 minutes prior to the live sale to be put into a queue system. This system will randomly assign you a spot in line when the sale starts.
The last US sale had over 16,000 people in line. So again, it seems like your odds are slim. False! While your spot is truly random, you can game this to your advantage. Some people log on in multiple browsers and/or multiple devices to be able to get between 8-10 places line, but these people are novices! They actually are over complicating it and not getting as many places in line as some *cough* me *cough*.
Creating Multiple Instances
I initially thought I could fool the system with incognito windows, but that didn’t work. Luckily thanks to the Tokyo Olympic Ticket discord I found a better and easier method to getting many places in line. If you download the Firefox Browser and the Firefox Multi-Account Container Extension you can trick the system and get as many spaces in line as you can create for yourself. This extension lets you put each tab in a separate “container” each container is seen as a wholly different person and is thus given a different place in the queue line.
The most dedicated ticket searchers will spend the 30 minute queue time creating upwards of 100 instances. Giving them 100 spots in line, and making it more likely they are towards the front of the line. Unlike those who end up using multiple phones, tablets, and computers, this strategy only requires one computer and one browser. While you will need to click through all your tabs when the sale starts, it is an easier way to get you an edge over the other 15,000+ people in line. During the last CoSport sale, I was able to have one of my tabs get through without having to wait online.
The Live Sale Itself
Once the live sale starts and you get through the line you have to be fast. The tickets don’t necessarily last all that long and no ticket is safe until you have checked out. Make sure you have a plan going into the sale with what you are looking for and act quickly on those events. Though as I said about the request phase, even if you strike out on the live sale do not get discouraged; the random drops are where most people have the most success.
Random drops are where I and most people got the majority of their Olympics tickets. ATRs are constantly getting more tickets, and not every allocation of tickets is large enough to justify a live sale. Heck, some ATRs never do live sales. In this situation the ATR will just randomly put them on their website. A first come first serve free for all.
In these situations, being among the first to notice the new allocation is key. During the past several months, I have set a browser to auto-refresh on CoSport. Obviously this is not possible for everyone (working at a desk all day has its benefits), but there are alternative ways to effectively monitor the random drops.
- Olympic ATR Tracker — For a $17 dollar fee you can subscribe to the Olympic tracker. This software tracks each ATR and will send you immediate alerts if your ATR has new tickets. I use this and it works.
- Tokyo 2020 Facebook Groups — Whenever there is an update people will post on the Facebook group. This group is a really strong community, and has been an effective tool for both random drop alerts and Olympics planning advice.
- Tokyo 2020 Discord — I am an admin of the Tokyo 2020 tickets discord group. This group has some of the most helpful people who are constantly on alert for new tickets. After downloading the discord app you can get push notifications of new messages to your phone.
I have purchased more tickets than I ever imagined when i started planning my Olympics journey, and 80% are from random drops. So even now in January, if you are vigilant, you can get enough event tickets to make your Olympic dream come true.
Step 3: Consider the Grey Market
Purchasing from your ATRs is 100% the safest way to get tickets, but not everyone is as successful as they want with their ATR. Those people can choose to get their tickets through a secondary seller. I am calling these sellers the Grey Market because they are not violating any rules, but there still are risks. Grey Market sellers are generally those who bought too many tickets, changed their mind, or have scheduling conflicts between events. They want to get rid of their tickets but do so in a way that complies with the terms of their purchase from their ATR. It is illegal to sell Olympic tickets at a profit unless you are an ATR (as their profits are limited by Tokyo 2020). Thus, Grey Market sellers will never charge you more than the face value of the ticket.
While the Grey Market sale are mostly individual to individual (so purchase at your own risk) you are not getting ripped off. The Tokyo 2020 Facebook Group and Tokyo 2020 Discord have pretty decent Olympic 2020 Grey Markets. Both of these groups have rules against posting tickets for sale at prices higher than face value, but make it clear you are buying at your own risk. For these types of purchases make sure you:
- Get proof that they purchased the tickets;
- Get some sort of written agreement in place for the sale of the ticket, that way there is something to enforce
- Always pay with a service like PayPal which has buyer protections in place.
Or a Grey Technique
A “Grey” technique that some utilize are mail forwarders. Around the world there are mail forwarding services that provide you with an address in another country and will forward your mail along to you. Some people use mail forwarders to purchase from ATRs they would not have otherwise been able to purchase from. If you are not a citizen or resident, this is likely a violation of terms of sale, but may not be something the ATR can enforce. Using a forwarder adds a third party into the mix one you do not know, so a significant risk is added. However, this can allow access to high demand events in low Olympic demand countries.
While I am not recommending this method, as it is a huge risk and a violation of the terms of sale. I feel it is something to acknowledge as a grey alternative.
Step 4: Buy From the Tokyo 2020 Olympics Tickets Official Resale Market
In April, Tokyo 2020 requires all ATRs to return any unsold tickets. At this point Tokyo 2020 will open a world-wide ticket market. We know very little about the resale market. They have not announced much. What we do know is it will be the place to buy the tickets the ATRs do not sell. It is also widely speculated that it will act similar to Ticketmaster’s verified resale tickets. Essentially, a place for people to resale tickets they already purchased through Tokyo 2020 but they no longer need. However, the assumption is for this “resale” option you will not be able to sell for above face value. It will just serve as a place to recoup the value you spent.
It is unlikely that you will be able to utilize this market to resell any tickets bought through ATR. However, it may be possible though those ATRs who are issuing E-Tickets (the only one I am aware of is sunwebsportsevents.nl).
Authorized Ticket Reseller Packages
A quick search of the ATR will turn up an easy quick solution to your Tokyo 2020 problems…ticket packages. I mentioned before that ATRs are capped on the amount they can make per ticket sold; the exception to this rule are ticket packages. They way they get around their markup cap is by bundling tickets with hotels or hospitality and putting a HUGE markup these bundled Items. Ticket packages are where ATRs make their real money and rob you blind. Unfortunately, this is also where the ATRs keep the highest demand tickets. They know that people with boatloads of cash will not hesitate to pay a large premium to get events like the Woman’s Gymnastics Team Finals and the Opening Ceremonies, which CoSport has only put in packages.
How much is this markup? CoSport sells “Hospitality Packages” which give you a ticket to an event and one-hour access to a hospitality room which has food, drinks, and probably some TVs to watch events. CoSport’s cost for this “hospitality pass” averages about $1,200 on top of the face value of the tickets. The hospitality package is where CoSport Rips you off the least. They also have flex packages which bundle a handful of event tickets with hotel. These packages start at $4,824/Person and require double occupancy. At this price you get 3 nights in 3-Star hotel and your choice of 3-events from a limited list. Even more expensive are sport specific packages starting at $6,585 for an equestrian package; earlier they offered a Women’s Gymnastics Sports specific package for about $18,000/person. Capping it off with premier packages starting at about $15,000/person.
If you can’t tell, I don’t recommend these packages unless you don’t mind getting ripped off.
Hey? What buying Olympics Tickets from Ebay or StubHub
A quick google search will find tickets for sale on places like Ebay or other Secondary Resellers (places like Stubhub or SeatGeek). These tickets will almost certainly be above face value and charge services fees for the sale. The sale of these tickets are in violation of the Tokyo 2020 and ATR terms of purchase. These tickets can be invalidated or are more likely to be a scam. Do not trust these sites! They do not provide protection for your tickets. Even a reputable company like eBay cannot stop the ticket from being invalidated and they only provide buyer protection for 30 days. Given that tickets do not ship until June, there is no way you will get your tickets before your protection runs out. You should avoid these purchases at all cost.
The moral of this story is while demand is high, tickets can be found. If you know where to look your Olympic dreams of Tokyo 2020 and Beyond Can Come True.