TOKYO – When it comes to tickets, next year's Tokyo Paralympics will be just like the Olympics: There's more demand than there are tickets.
“The interest is there and we are absolutely delighted," International Paralympic President Andrew Parsons told The Associated Press in an interview Tuesday. “It shows clearly that the appetite for the Paralympic Games is there — in Tokyo and in Japan."
Parsons said there were 3.1 million tickets requested earlier this year in the first lottery phase. This exceeds the 2.3 million available. About 600,000 tickets were awarded in the first lottery, and another lottery is set for early next year.
Tokyo organizers allowed Parsons to release the demand figure on Tuesday. Organizers have yet to specify the level of demand for Olympic tickets, which is at least 10 times over supply and maybe more.
The scarcity has angered some fans and the general public, and is a sensitive topic for organizers who also face pressure for tickets from sponsors, international federations, national Olympic committees, and authorized ticket re-sellers.
“The Paralympic athletes will be competing in packed stadiums, which is absolutely fantastic for the message we want to send to the world," Parsons said.
London is the benchmark for the Paralympics with 2.7 million tickets sold. Tokyo would far surpass that if there were greater stadium capacity. Parsons said there were are no plans for this.
Tokyo organizers on Thursday are widely expected to announce that the Paralympic marathons will stay in Tokyo. Olympic marathons were moved out of Tokyo to the cooler northern city of Sapporo. The Paralympics will probably avoid the heat, opening 2 1/2 weeks after the Olympics close.
All Paralympic marathons are set for the closing day — Sept. 6, 2020 — which will mark the end of Tokyo's seven years of preparations.
The Tokyo Olympics run July 24-Aug. 9, followed by the Paralympics opening on Aug. 25.
“The marathon is a moment when we'd like to see a big celebration for people who didn't get a ticket but can come and be part of the last event of this journey," Parsons said.
The marathons are a non-ticket event and should draw large crowds to the streets.
The Paralympics issued a blanket ban on Russian athletes in the 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, but allowed selected Russians to compete in the 2018 Winter Paralympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Parsons said he still believes the blanket ban was the "right decision.”
On Monday, the World Anti-Doping Agency slapped Russian with a four-year ban that includes next year's Olympics and Paralympics. Parsons declined to comment, saying he'd wait until after an expected appeal by Russia to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
“Then we will be able to react according too that decision," Parsons said.