MOSCOW, January 16 (R-Sport) - Fans wishing to buy tickets to the Sochi Winter Games must register their personal details with the Russian authorities first, organizing committee head Dmitry Chernyshenko said Wednesday.
To obtain the so-called Spectator Pass required to buy a ticket, potential spectators must log their details with a new national database linked to Russia's new state ID card scheme, which stores the owner’s passport information and even bank details.
“A person who wants to buy a ticket will be requested to voluntarily register for the database. It’s confirmation that he is a well-behaved fan. He joins a sort of Sochi 2014 fan club,” Chernyshenko said.
While Chernyshenko insisted the scheme would be voluntary, a Sochi 2014 spokesperson told R-Sport that it would not be possible to purchase tickets without the pass.
“It’s similar to accreditation for sporting competitions. You don’t have to view this as a policing measure,” he said.
The pass also allows access to "hundreds of events at the Olympic Park," including concerts, as well as access to museums and theaters in the city of Sochi, a statement on the organizing committee website said.
It not immediately clear how foreigners' data would be used, or whether it would be added to the government database.
"The Spectator Pass will help to ensure the secure, hospitable and friendly atmosphere of the Games in Sochi. The State is responsible for ensuring the safe hosting of the Games, and is its top priority," the spokesperson said in an e-mailed statement, adding that the registration process would be clarified next month.
The first state ID cards have been issued this month on a voluntary basis and will be compulsorily from the start of next year. They have attracted condemnation from some Russian civil liberties activists.
Organizers are in talks with state-owned bank Sberbank, the country’s largest retail lender, about merging the database with the national ID card information.
“We’re holding negotiations with Sberbank to unite this with the procedure for receiving the Universal Electronic Card, the electronic card of every inhabitant of our country,” Chernyshenko said.
The Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics will be held from February 7 to 23 next year.