Fans face long Rio queues for tickets from reseller

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - The world’s biggest reseller of Olympics tickets, U.S.-based CoSport, frayed the nerves of some visiting Games fans who queued for hours in Rio this week to retrieve their tickets.

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CoSport, which is authorized Games ticket reseller for residents of the United States, the UK, Australia and several other countries, required many customers to show up at a local ticket collection center in the host city to claim tickets bought earlier from the firm in their home countries.

On Thursday, more than 100 frustrated fans were kept for up to five hours in queues, several customers said. The lines on Wednesday had also lasted hours, others said.

Tom Shorkey, 68, from Pennsylvania, said he had arrived in Rio early Thursday and went straight to the CoSport site to claim his tickets. He was funneled through various lines and still hadn’t been able to retrieve them after four hours.

“It’s ridiculous,” Shorkey said.

A CoSport spokesman did not respond to a Reuters request for comment on Thursday about the long waits. The U.S. Olympic Committee, which chose CoSport as its reseller, also didn’t respond to a request for comment.

New Jersey-based CoSport is a fixture at the Olympics, and has long been awarded exclusive rights to market Games tickets to Americans by the U.S. committee.CoSport’s ticket distribution center at the London Games in 2012 also came under criticism for ticket lines that in some cases lasted six hours.

Australian Mark Lancer said he showed up Thursday at CoSport’s center in Rio at 10 a.m. and was initially told the wait would be four hours. As of 3 p.m. he was still waiting.

“I’ve seen people yelling at the staff,” Lancer said.

CoSport customers can elect to collect tickets in Rio rather than have them sent to homes for a fee. Beyond a certain purchase date, customers don’t have a choice and must collect them in person. CoSport does not offer electronic tickets.

Rio ticket sales have lagged behind those for past Games in London and Beijing, with around 1.2 million still unsold.

Games organizers said on Thursday they will give away up to 280,000 tickets to public school children in Rio.

Additional reporting by Pedro Fonseca in Rio de Janeiro; Editing by Mark Bendeich