Officials at VANOC say they are just a few weeks away from rolling out the official Olympic ticket re-selling site, and it's likely to allow people to legally scalp seats they can't use themselves.
Vice-president Dave Cobb said while VANOC finds the idea of supporting scalping unsavoury, it was still the best way to ensure others would not get scammed and that seats would be filled at the Olympic and Paralympic events in February and March.
"While it's a little bit offensive to us that we would authorize a resale site that allows tickets being sold at greater than face value, I think the goal of having people knowing that they can buy real tickets, and not be turned around at the door because they encountered either a counterfeit or invalid ticket, would outweigh it," Cobb said.
'The market for the resell site is determined by eBay.' — Dave Cobb, VANOC vice-president
There's no law in British Columbia against scalping tickets, but under the terms of the ticketing agreement that everyone signs on to when they buy an Olympic ticket, nobody but VANOC is allow to resell a ticket for higher than its face value.
Previously, VANOC officials had warned they would deactivate tickets sold by scalpers or through online sites like Craigslist.org, because they are not authorized resellers. But Cobbs said that in order for VANOC to make its own site work for sellers, it will likely have to allow them to make a profit.
"I believe that for people to use that system, they have to be able to post their tickets at whatever the market will be, and the market for the resell site is determined by eBay and all other sites out there," he said.
VANOC will take a percentage fee from all ticket resales with the intention of covering the cost of the system, Cobb said.
Before the second-hand tickets go on sale, Canadians have one last chance to buy admissions when VANOC puts the third and final batch on sale on Nov. 7.
On budget, so far
VANOC released its annual report on Monday morning, avowing that the organization is still on track to balance its budget at the end of the 2010 Winter Games.
The budget showed VANOC currently has a multimillion-dollar cash surplus leading into the Games, but officials cautioned much of their spending has yet to come.
Cobb said a number of factors are playing into the organizer's potential for financial success, including a commitment from the International Olympic Committee to help VANOC balance its budget once the Olympics and Paralympics are done.
"Over the course of the summer we worked with the IOC and got a commitment from them," Cobb said.
Expenditures were reduced and a slight turnaround in the economy since September "now puts us in a position we're confident that, not only will we have a balanced budget, it was just a question, 'Can we deliver the Games with the budget we had?' And as of today, we believe we can," Cobb said.
VANOC is responsible for paying for the operation of the Olympic events during the Games, mostly through money raised from sponsors, ticket sales and money from the IOC.
But the costs for security, building the venues and transportation infrastructure is being paid for by the federal, provincial and municipal governments.
Many of those costs are substantially beyond their original budgets, including the cost of security (originally estimated at $175 million but now acknowledged to be closer to $1 billion) and several venues.