MOSCOW, July 23 (R-Sport) – A wide-ranging promotional blitz for the upcoming world athletics championships in Moscow has boosted ticket sales to the point where more than 80 percent of the total available for each of the nine days of competition have been sold, the International Association of Athletics Federation said in a statement Tuesday.
The IAAF, which announced the figures on its website, said the final weekend had been sold out but did not reveal the total number of tickets purchased thus far for the August 10-18 event. Luzhniki, the 78,000-seat host stadium in downtown Moscow, will have a reduced capacity of 35,000.
“Since the beginning of July, thanks to enhanced promotional campaigns on television, radio, in the press, with billboards throughout the city and most recently, on the Moscow metro … we have seen a real surge in ticket sales,” general secretary Essar Gabriel said.
IAAF president Lamine Diack caused a stir in early April when he criticized Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev for inadequately promoting the world’s second-biggest track-and-field event after the Olympics. He said he had noticed a dearth of television commercials advertising the competition, compared with the number touting the recently wrapped Kazan Universiade and the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics.
The new sales numbers should relieve anxiety among organizers that the championships would be poorly attended, an embarrassing prospect for first-time host Russia, which has not staged a major athletics competition since the 1980 Olympics in Moscow.
As recently as June 7, total ticket sales were lingering around the 44,000 mark, a less than five-percent increase from where they stood on May 17, and more than 100,000 fewer than the number reportedly sold at the 2011 championships in Daegu, South Korea.