By Stephen Wade
AP Sports Writer
RIO DE JANEIRO — Sports fans living outside Brazil who bought tickets for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics early may be regretting it, having paid higher prices and add-on fees.
In a late push to boost slow ticket sales ahead of the Aug. 5-21 games, Rio organizers have opened up their local ticket website to the rest of the world. This means that fans outside Brazil can now buy tickets at local rates in Brazilian reals.
The result is ticket prices that could be much lower due to fluctuations in exchange rates between the real and other currencies, and the absence of so-called service fees charged by official ticket resellers outside Brazil.
“This is a great deal for someone coming to Brazil,” Rio ticket director Donovan Ferreti told The Associated Press on Tuesday. “Now the exchange rate is in their favor.”
Americans, in particular, could regret having bought early.
Rio organizers reached an agreement more than a year ago with official ticket resellers outside Brazil — those who wanted to price in dollars — to use the exchange rate of 2.35 reals to the dollar. The rate is now about 3.25.
This means that a ticket priced at 500 reals, purchased from the American reseller CoSport, would cost about $215. In addition, authorized resellers are also allowed to collect up to a 20 percent service charge on ticket sales.
However, an American buyer can now go to the Brazilian website and click on a ticket priced at 500 reals. At the current exchange rate, that price is about $150 – and there is no service fee.
“You can see the price in reals, no extra fees, and you can buy directly on our website,” Ferreti said.
He said the website has been open to all since June 1.
On Thursday beginning at noon local time, Rio organizers will put 100,000 new tickets on sale. Ferreti said this was likely to be the last batch.
“We have tickets for all sports, so it’s a grand chance for people around the world to buy their tickets,”Ferreti said.
Ferreti said Rio has sold 4.4 million of the 6.1 million tickets available, or 72 percent. He said of the 4.4 million sold, 1.1 million have been bought by non-Brazilians. He said the largest five foreign buyers in order were: Americans, French, Argentines, Germans, and Japanese.
He said he was not allowed to give specific numbers because of an agreement with the authorized ticket sellers.
Ferreti said ticket sales “are increasing each day” and he said Rio expects to meets its budget estimate of raising 1.045 billion reals ($320 million) through ticket sales.
“We are selling many more tickets now that we are getting closer to the games,” Ferreti said. He expects most venues to be full, or nearly full, and highlighted that Brazilians typically are late buyers.
He said that Rio organizers had no plans to give away free tickets, even if some venues are not full.
“No free tickets,” he said.
Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes promised after the 2014 World Cup to give away 1.2 million Olympic tickets to students and the poor. In the end, the city bought about 47,000 Olympic tickets — 4 percent of his promise.
Carlos Nuzman, head of the Rio organizing committee, hinted in a speech at the weekend that smaller crowds could be acceptable.
“I don’t think we need too much public,” he said, adding that smaller venues could save money by having fewer spectators.