How to Purchase Olympic Tickets (in the United States)
I watched seven hours of track and field today. It was the IAAF World Relays. I was so ready to write about the track-only event that had over 40 countries and 700 athletes competing in a variety of relays.
But I'm not writing about that today. Because I want to give you, the reader, some information that I wish that I had years ago:
How to buy tickets to the Olympics!
For years and years and years, I have watched Olympic games and wondered, "Why are the stands empty? If I knew how to get tickets I would be there in an instant!"
But I never knew how it worked! So the seats remained empty and I remained at home.
I have been knee-deep in Olympics coverage since February of 2018, and because I kept my ear to the ground, I heard about CoSport, the ticket reseller for the United States and a few other countries. (Cartan Global is the primary reseller for the rest of the world, while Japanese residents simply apply on the official Tokyo 2020 website.)
In April, the announcement was made that the lottery would be up during the month of May. Yes, that is a full 14 months before the Olympic Games, but the planning needs to be there!
Thanks to Ken Hanscom, I learned a lot more about the lottery process than I would have ever found on the CoSport website.
I took this information to heart this afternoon as I set up my CoSport account and started requesting tickets. It reminded me of Star Wars Celebration, where I had to do a lottery for the big panels because of high demand. Back then, I foolishly applied for only the big stage instead of the smaller ones (because why would I request the small stage?), and ended up being left out of all of them!
This time, I tempered my expectations. I didn't go for the high category seats. At this point, all I want is to be in the building as the premier competitions. I don't care if I have to be in the last row!
Here was my process. If you have always wondered how it works, this is for you!
Register for a CoSport account.
If this is your thing, then register first. Here is a look at the information they'll need:
You'll create a username and password, and need to verify your email address before you can begin requesting tickets.
This account will not only apply for the Tokyo 2020 tickets, but all other Olympic tickets in the future. (If CoSport ends up selling tickets for LA 2028, this will be a very important process for everyone! StubHub it is not!)
After all of that is set up, then comes the fun part:
Requesting the Tickets
This is a request. They do not ask for any credit card information in these steps. So basically this is an Olympian fan's dream: What do you want to see? Who do you want to watch? What events have you always wished to attend? The world is your oyster!
I've been taking notes ever since Rio 2016, and a few additional announcements helped me make my choices. Some requirements for me:
- I want to see lots and lots and lots of athletics events.
- Men's shot put needs to be viewed in person.
- It would be awesome to be able to see pole vault.
- I really, really want to see the Mixed 4x400m relay.
- I want to see people win gold!
- As much as I despise the gymnastics bureaucracy, I really want to watch some gymnastics. However, I don't want to see the all-arounds. Instead, I want to view the event finals, where men and women alternate competitions.
- Swimming is a pipe dream, but now that Michael Phelps is gone, maybe it will be easier to get a ticket? No? Oh, well.
- I really want to see archery.
- It would be fun to watch 3x3 basketball.
- Opening. Ceremony.
In all of my requests, I asked for the nosebleeds. As someone who will be attending events by myself (even though I'll be hanging out with friends for a lot of the time), I'm hoping it will be easy for me to attain tickets for the higher-demand events.
Back to the request screen:
You will click on "request tickets" on the home screen.
There will be various pieces of information scattered around. It rehashes the stuff that Hanscom tweeted before.
There will be a menu of all the Olympic sport categories. If you're looking for some events, you might need to check another drop-down box to find it. For example, diving can be found under the "Aquatics" drop-down box. (I still couldn't find kayaking not matter how hard I looked!)
After clicking on the event, you can choose the specific sport you're looking for. Some only have one choice, but a sport like "Gymnastics" has three different types: artistic, trampoline, and rhythmic. Choose carefully.
Unlike the Tokyo 2020 website, CoSport's schedules are much clearer to see. You can print a .pdf of the complete schedule...
...but honestly, this is just a request! Who knows what you'll end up getting? So you can go straight to the request screen.
It does list the categories that you can choose from. Some lesser-demand sports only have one category, while something like athletics goes all the way from A-E.
You can see that you can request handicap seating if you need it.
I really like that it gives an exact description of what you will see. It's not just, "Shot Put." It says if it's a preliminary or a final. It says if it's men or women.
Note that the times are given in 24-hour times, so there isn't any am/pm confusion here!
The sports I chose:
- Athletics (duh.)
- Table Tennis
- 3x3 Basketball
- Field Hockey
- Sport Climbing
- THE OPENING CEREMONY BECAUSE I HAVE DREAMS!
Don't Forget to Submit!
After putting the requests together, you can view your list. (I stopped after 30 requests. Half of them were for athletics.)
This is nice because I was able to see my requests listed according to date. It doesn't matter if I double-booked, because these are not finalized until they do the selections and I pay.
But something I think many people will not realize is that you have to submit your requests once you're done!
This might be a lottery where I end up with absolutely nothing. In that case, I will need to lean on my volunteer application to get in. Plus, I'm sure I could find tickets when I actually go to the Olympics and buy nosebleeds for tennis or something. (You know, those events that media outlets focus on because the stands are pretty empty.) It would be nice to have 12 percent of a plan, though.
I am curious now! Are you going to try getting tickets? If you got to choose anything to see in person, what would you pick? How many events will I get? Should I start a pool and set up bets?
Cross your fingers with me!
Weekly Cauldron Check