National

Jan 21, 2014 10:25 AM by Connie Murphy

Sochi still scrambling to sell Olympic tickets

LONDON (AP) - The prospect looms of empty seats and a lack of atmosphere at Russia's first Winter Olympics, with hundreds of thousands of tickets still unsold and just three weeks to go.

There are signs that many foreign fans are turned off by terrorist threats, expensive flights and hotels, long travel distances, a shortage of tourist attractions and the hassle of obtaining visas and spectator passes.

Sochi organizers say 70 percent of tickets have been sold for the games, which represent a symbol of pride and prestige for Russia and President Vladimir Putin.

Attracting foreign visitors also has been a challenge amid all the headlines about Russia's law banning gay "propaganda" and other human rights issues.

Russia's organizing committee chief says strong last-minute sales are expected.

According to IOC marketing documents seen by the AP, Sochi offered 1.1 million tickets. That would mean about 300,000 tickets remain available.

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