U.S. buyers beware, and bring cash

Times Staff Writer

Purchasing a ticket to a Beijing Olympics event at this late date isn't out of the question -- if you've got plenty of cash.

CoSport, a Far Hills, N.J., company that is the exclusive primary ticket seller for the Summer Games in the United States, Canada and four other countries, has already sold its initial allotment of 67,000 tickets. But the company advises would-be Olympic travelers to monitor its website ( www.cosports.com) in case Olympic organizers release additional tickets.

Event tickets also are available in the secondary market through online brokers, but experienced Olympic travel agents advise caution.

"I had a call from someone who wanted to know what I thought about an opening ceremony ticket advertised online for $1,200 by a British broker," said Adam Dailey, managing director of Ludus Track & Field Tours, an Austin, Texas, agency that offers Olympic tickets and travel packages. "At that price, I can guarantee that you'll never see that ticket."

Ludus, the official travel agency for USA Triathlon and USA Track & Field, is marketing front-row tickets to the opening ceremony at $7,500 -- a price that does not include airfare, hotel, meals or a national flag to wave.

CoSport and other travel companies are offering a range of inclusive and expensive travel packages.

A $4,455 (per-person, double occupancy) package advertised on CoSport's website includes four nights in a Beijing hotel and tickets to swimming, diving and basketball competitions spread over two days. CoSport also offers a $14,800 package that includes seven nights in a Beijing hotel, tickets to six events over five days and admission to the opening ceremony.

None of the packages includes air fare. Travelers also should have a passport in hand and obtain a travel visa from the Chinese government and investigate lodging prior to buying Olympic tickets. Would-be Olympic travelers who opt to buy in the secondary market online should get them through a ticket broker they've done business with in the past, said Susan Tanzman, a travel agent with West L.A.'s Martin's Travel and Tours.

"I'd give a strong warning against buying anything from someone you don't know," she said. "You'd be better off paying scalpers' prices once you get there."

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greg.johnson@latimes.com

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