Asia: Olympics Scalping, Ticket Resale Investigation, Paramore

Japan Gov. Acts To Limit Olympic Scalping

Tokyo National Stadium
Kyodo News via AP
– Tokyo National Stadium
Tokyo held a groundbreaking ceremony Dec. 11 for a $1.5 billion new National Stadium to host the 2020 Olympic Games.

Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party plans to submit a bill to the national assembly next month to control the online resale of tickets for concerts and other events. The government wants restrictions in place before tickets go on sale for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.

According to various media, the law will address tickets that meet three conditions: They must specify an event’s date, time, venue and seat number; they must include a notice that the event’s organizer prohibits the resale of the ticket; and the organizer itself must make some sort of provision to prevent scalping, such as checking identities of ticket holders against a database. In effect, the new law will ban the business of acquiring tickets for the purpose of reselling them, as well as transactions where tickets are sold for more than their face value.

Penalties will likely be the same for those imposed on scalpers who sell tickets on the street, which is up to six months imprisonment and a fine of no more than 500,000 yen ($4,400). The law will not penalize people who buy a ticket legitimately and, finding themselves unable to attend the event, sell the ticket for less than the price they paid for it. In addition, tickets for unreserved seats are not covered by the law.

At present 41 of Japan’s 47 prefectures have anti-scalping laws, but they only cover street sales and not online transactions.

Because the law requires organizers to do something about controlling scalping, it may be a burden for concert promoters. If they fail to provide such countermeasures then the law will not apply to their concerts. Also, the law may require that promoters accept all legitimate ticket buyers’ requests for refunds.

The new law was quickly drafted in response to the Olympic organizing committee’s request for a legal framework to prevent the resale of tickets at high prices. In line with this request, the organizing committee plans to introduce a ticket exchange system that will only be used for Olympic and Paralympic tickets. Unlike the proposed system, ticket holders will be able to resell their tickets at face value.

Ticket Resale Being Investigated

Hunza Inc., part of the Mixi online group and which operates the ticket resale site TicketCamp, is being investigated by the police for possible trademark violations, according to Japan’s Sankei Shimbun newspaper.

Hunza also runs a website called Johnny’s Tsushin (Communications), which features information about acts that belong to the powerful talent agency and production company Johnny’s & Associates, whose stable of boy bands is the biggest in Japan.

Johnny’s Tsushin aggregates information gleaned from the Internet related to Johnny’s acts into articles, and then links the articles to specific pages on TicketCamp where people are trying to resell tickets to Johnny’s-related concerts, usually at high markups. Johnny’s Tsushin has 83,000 Twitter followers and more than 520,000 followers on Line, the most popular messaging app in Japan.

Since Dec. 5, however, Line notifications for the site have ceased, and the Johnny’s Tsushin website itself has been suspended, as Mixi has said it will cooperate with the police investigation into its operations. Sankei says that in November Johnny’s & Associates complained that Hunza was using the Johnny’s name without permission while also selling tickets to upcoming shows for its biggest group, Arashi, at high markups and without charging its usual handling fee of 5 percent. Hunza immediately removed the Johnny’s name from all its sites. However, it continued selling the tickets to the Arashi Tour shows.

On Dec. 1, Hunza announced that in January it would start limiting sales on TicketCamp to four tickets per transaction as a “countermeasure” against scalping. It would also require sellers to provide photo identification and if the name of the seller did not match the name of the seller’s bank transfer information, the transaction would be voided. Mixi bought TicketCamp in 2015.

Pa(ra)more Ticket Mixup

The website InterAksyon is reporting an odd ticket mixup in the Philippines involving Paramore and a similarly named Philippine quarter. The American rock band Paramore is scheduled to bring its Tour Four to the Mall of Asia Arena on Feb. 18, and fans of the band rushed out to buy tickets for the show. However, after purchasing the tickets, some fans discovered that they had instead bought tickets for a concert by the Philippine quartet PaMore, which is to take place at the same venue but on a different date.

According to Twitter remarks posted by InterAksyon, some fans believe there was some sort of trick being played on them, since the PaMore tickets went on sale exactly one day after Paramore tickets sold out. This caused PaMore fans to defend their idols, saying that the disgruntled Paramore fans had no one to blame but themselves. So far, there has been no notice as to whether the mistakenly sold (or bought) tickets can be refunded.

South Korea Olympics Tickets Surge

Pyeongchang Winter Olympics Plaza
Lee Jin-man/AP
– Pyeongchang Winter Olympics Plaza
Construction on the venue to host the opening and closing ceremonies at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in 2018.

Reuters has reported that ticket sales for the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics have tripled since the Olympic torch relay commenced in South Korea in November. The International Olympic Committee has said that it is “hopeful” that 90 percent of the available tickets will be sold by the time of the opening ceremony on February 9. As of the first week of December only about half of the 1.1 million tickets have been sold.

South Korea is the first Asian country outside of Japan to hold the Winter Games, and until a month ago domestic sales were sluggish. The flame for the torch relay arrived in South Korea on Nov. 1, and since then sales have picked up, thanks to local publicity and a mobilization strategy by organizers to recruit local governments and schools to boost sales. Since then, the IOC reports that on average 1,200 tickets are sold every day, not counting school sales.

The organizers are anxious that the news of Russia being banned from competing as a country due to doping charges (Russians can still compete as individuals) might deter some people from attending the games.