Rio 2016: Greatest show may be the most expensive

rio_olympics_2016_logo_a_pSaddleworth Independent’s sports editor Tony Bugby is reporting from his seventh Olympic Games and here he gives a unique insight into how Rio de Janeiro is coping with the greatest show on earth.

It would no exaggeration to say you need deep pockets if contemplating attending a future Olympic Games.

They may be the greatest show on earth, but they are possibly the most expensive as well.

And it is conceivable that you could easily spend several thousand pounds on tickets. On top of that are exorbitant air fares and accommodation.

Let’s examine Rio as an example are they are currently hosting the first Olympics to be staged in South America.

It is winter in Brazil and by shopping around at this time of the year you can buy a return flight for about £450.

Factor the Olympics into the equation and it is a totally different ball game.

Looking at direct flights from London Heathrow to Rio International Airport, they came in at just under £5,000, a jaw dropping or eye-popping figure, may be both.

The way to bring the figure down was to make several scheduled changes. In my case it was London to Sao Paolo, change airports and arriving at the small airport in Rio that handles domestic flights.

Returning was even more circuitous – Rio to Sao Paolo to Milan and back to Heathrow. By doing that it was possible to get the figure below £1,200 which felt like having won the lottery.

Accommodation in Rio was at a colossal cost as Olympic visitors need somewhere to stay and are forced to pay premium rates.

A figure of 250 American dollars a night is not uncommon – and that is for a bog standard room, certainly not five star accommodation you would expect when paying such a sum.

Food and drink cannot be taken into Olympic venues and again the outlets charge a king’s ransom – expect to play £5 for a cheeseburger, £4 for a hot dog and almost £3 for a bottle of coke.

And the quality and selection of food leaves much to be desired which make it even more unpalatable.

So on to ticket prices, another drain on your purse and prices beyond the reach of many Brazilians.

Tickets for the blue ribbon events like the opening and closing ceremonies, athletics, swimming and basketball finals are costly.

Yet if you opt for some of the less high-profile sports it is possibly to watch the Games on a modest budget.

If expense is no object, you can pay up to £800 for the best seats in the house for the opening and closing ceremonies. But the cheapest can be bought for about £60 (prices are a rough calculation from the Brazilian currency, the real).

Want to watch Usain Bolt in the final of the 100m and it could cost £350 to have a vantage point near the finishing line. And even the seats with the worst views are £100.

Those are the sums you will pay for any of the athletics finals while morning qualifying sessions are between £60 and £100, a sizeable sum when no medals are decided.

Swimming finals have also always been some of the hottest tickets in town. And if you were lucky enough to get one to the finals, they could cost up to £250.

Rio is the first of my seven Olympics when the swimming has not been sellouts. But that has been the case for most sports with ticket sales the lowest in recent memory.

Likewise basketball tickets have also been in demand since the first USA ‘Dream Team’ competed in Barcelona in 1992. Court side seats for the gold medal match, the Americans are almost certs to be playing, cost £350.

But that is not unusual because when the NBA stage regular season games in London, the ticket prices are staggering.

People complain about the price of watching Premier League football, but NBA games are sky high in comparison.

So how can you see the Games on a budget?

I have seen plenty of hockey watching Saddleworth’s Nicola White and it is fast and exciting and great value at £10 for group games.

Likewise for the triathlon, featuring the extraordinary talented Brownlee brothers, Alistair and Jonathan, tickets are £20.

Even some basketball preliminary round matches, involving some of the less high-profile nations, can cost as little as £30.

Handball is another great viewing sport, described as “brutal” by one journalist who watched it for the first time. Preliminary round games again cost as little as £20.

If you are willing to compromise on seat quality for simply being there, you can get tickets for the swimming finals for £40.

So it is possible to see a good selection of sports on a modest budget. But if money is no object, you will almost need a second mortgage to experience Games in style.

 

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