Attending the Nagano Games will be no easy feat

As opening day of the 18th Winter Olympics in Nagano Prefecture draws closer, many sports enthusiasts are beginning to wonder how they will be able to experience the Games.

Those who do not already have tickets now only have a slim chance of purchasing any. And those lucky enough to already hold tickets will face problems finding a place to stay near the site of the Games.

Despite the festive image of the Olympics, which kicks off next Feb. 7, efforts to create a good environment for the public have been poor. Sources close to the organizers say the limited distribution of tickets and scarce accommodations in Nagano are certain to discourage people from visiting the prefecture during the Games, and this could have serious consequences for local tourism.

“We are going to set up a special team in May to deal with increasing public inquiries about available accommodations within the prefecture,” said Yuji Matsumoto of the tourist information section of the prefectural government. “As to tickets, however, we are sorry but there is nothing we can do.”

Distribution of ticket for the Olympics is strictly controlled by the Organizing Committee for the 18th Olympic Winter Games in Nagano (NAOC). Of the 610,000 tickets to be distributed in Japan, 366,000 will be delivered later this month to winners of a lottery, NAOC officials said. The deadline to enter the lottery ended March 14.

The remaining 244,000 tickets will be sold through eight agencies authorized by NAOC. Sales will begin June 2, the officials said.