Tickets for the next Olympics in Sydney, Australia, are going to cost as much as $830 at current exchange rates - about 30 percent more than the most expensive events were priced at the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta.

Salt Lake Organizing Committee officials aren't saying what that might mean for ticket prices in 2002, but then, they've got more than a year to figure out what to charge."All I can say is, realistically, we'll have a clearer picture 15 months from now," said Shelley Thomas, a SLOC vice president. "We don't know at this point if we'll be presenting ticket prices higher than the last Winter Games."

Olympic ticket sales expert Don Williams said he expects the cost of attending events at the 2002 Winter Games to be higher than for the 1998 Winter Games in Nagano, Japan.

But the increase shouldn't be as much as between Atlanta and Sydney, said Williams, vice president of the official Olympic ticket agency in the United States, Cartan Travel of Manhattan Beach, Calif.

The top tickets for the 1998 Winter Games in Nagano cost Americans about $400 apiece. That price included a 20 percent surcharge for foreign sales, a surcharge not yet included in the Sydney costs.

That's because so far tickets for the 2000 Summer Games are only on sale to Australians. A price for U.S. residents based on the estimated value of the Australian dollar in 2000 should be set by Cartan Travel later this year.

Organizers of the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney announced on Wednesday what they're charging for tickets, a price list that starts at 10 Australian dollars - about $6 in U.S. currency at current exchange rates.

That's a buck or so less than the cheap seats went for during the last Summer Games, in 1996 in Atlanta. Seeing the opening and closing ceremonies in Sydney, though, is going to cost some $200 more than it did in Atlanta.

The pageantry was priced at between $212 and $636 in Atlanta. The same seats in Sydney will range from about $63 to $830. If the value of the Australian dollar increases, though, the cost in U.S. dollars will be even more.

Not all of the tickets for the Sydney Games are so costly. At least 80 percent of the 5 million tickets that will go on sale in Australia next year will be priced at less than $58.

Organizers said Wednesday they estimate that around 75 percent of all seats at the 2000 Summer Games will be filled by Australians. About 1.5 million reduced-price tickets will be available to Australia's children and its poor.

More than 8 million tickets are expected to be sold overall, an increase over earlier estimates. That's because organizers need the extra revenue to offset budget increases.

Ticket sales are the last major source of untapped revenue for organizers of Salt Lake City's Games, something Thomas said is being taken into consideration as a pricing plan is developed.

But it's not just a question of how much money organizers can make off tickets. Prices have to be approved by the International Olympic Committee, which has always stressed the Games should be accessible.

And the IOC's contract with Salt Lake City states ticket prices "shall be kept as low as possible in order to ensure wide attendance from visitors and tourists around the world as well as from the local population."

Sydney organizers reportedly were forced to back down from plans to charge more than $1,000 for the best seats at the opening and closing ceremonies after the IOC got involved.

SLOC intends to submit its ticket prices to the IOC in late 1999 for approval, Thomas said. The plan is not expected to be announced until early the following year.


Additional Information

Olympic tickets

Highest Lowest

Summer Games price price

1996 Atlanta $636 $7

2000 Sydney $830* $6*

Winter Games

1998 Nagano $400 $25**

2002 Salt Lake City Yet to be determined

* Based on current exchange rates

** Based on cost to American ticket buyers