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Volume 6 No. 266

Olympics

The Pyeongchang Paralympics have surpassed 320,000 in ticket sales.
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

With five days of competition remaining, the Pyeongchang 2018 Paralympics have "already" set a new record for ticket sales, surpassing the total number sold at Sochi 2014, according to Martin Belam of the London GUARDIAN. Sales have reached 320,531 for the Games. Friday's opening ceremony was attended by 21,000 people, while more than 100,000 purchased tickets for the first three days of competition -- "with a turnout rate of 75%." Approximately 90% of tickets for all remaining sessions have been sold. POCOG President Lee Hee-beom said, "The people of South Korea have embraced the passion of the Games and many are experiencing Para sports for the very first time" (GUARDIAN, 3/13). YONHAP reported the three most popular events so far have been the wheelchair curling match between South Korea and Canada on Monday, the ice hockey match between South Korea and Japan on Saturday and the wheelchair curling match between South Korea and Germany on Monday, according to the POCOG (YONHAP, 3/13). KYODO reported "despite the strong figures, attendance at many events such as alpine skiing and biathlon has been spotty," with empty seats being assigned to staff and volunteers. The POCOG said that the "discrepancy between ticket sales and attendance arose from the large number of bulk ticket purchases." Groups such as businesses and schools can buy tickets in large quantities but leave a chunk of seats empty if they do not attend, "a phenomenon compounded by the South Korean school year beginning in March" (KYODO, 3/13).

'INTERNATIONAL PROPAGANDA': In Seoul, Cho Yun-myung reported North Koreans "expressed doubts" about their country's participants in the Paralympics, according to Radio Free Asia. A source from North Hamgyeong Province said that North Korean athletes at the 2018 Paralympic Games were likely to have been "arranged in a hurry by North Korean authorities to utilize the Winter Games for international propaganda." The source said, "It is impossible for a person with congenital disabilities to become a national athlete by their own will in this country." A North Korean defector who came to South Korea in '17 "supported the point," saying that "a person with disabilities cannot even set foot in downtown Pyongyang" (KOREA HERALD, 3/13).

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. will "promote the inclusion of competitive video games as an Olympic sport," just as long as they are not "violent or gory," according to Lulu Yilun Chen of BLOOMBERG. China’s biggest e-commerce company, which operates an esports business and is a sponsor of the Olympic Games through '28, is "pushing" for football, car racing and other games to be endorsed as an official competitive sport, AliSports CEO Zhang Dazhong said. That move "could bar some of the world's biggest titles from the Olympics," such as League of Legends and PlayerUnknown Battlegrounds, which are "both distributed by Alibaba's competitor Tencent Holdings Ltd. in China." Zhang said, "In our communication with the Olympics committee, we've come to have a better understanding of their values, which is to promote peace. That's why for the future development of esports, we will focus more on titles that are actually related to sports, instead of games that focus on violence and slaughter." Alibaba, which is investing 300M yuan ($47M) in esports in the year through March, is hosting the World Electronic Sports Games this week, where an IOC member will attend to observe (BLOOMBERG, 3/13). GAMES INDUSTRY's Matthew Handrahan reported AliSports has worked with the Olympic Council of Asia to "get professional gaming accepted as a medal event" at the 2022 Asian Games. As such, it is in an "influential position when it comes to getting esports into the Olympic Games" (GAMES INDUSTRY, 3/13).