By Jane Cohen and Bob Grossweiner

The 2010 Olympic Winter Games, to be staged in February that year in Vancouver and Whistler, BC, might seem far enough off but its organizing committee is wasting no time with its ticket program and unveiled details last week on how fans from the U.S. can obtain tickets to the Winter Games and the Paralympic Winter Games, held a month later.

Tickets to the 2010 Winter Games will be sold in the U.S. through the United States Olympic Committee’s (USOC) exclusive public ticket sales agentsJet Set Sports and its affiliate CoSport, and go on sale a year from now in October 2008.

Making sure there are no empty seats like at the 2006 Winter Games in Torino, Italy, half of the 1.6 million tickets will be priced at $100 or less, and 100,000 will be priced at $25. Tickets for the opening and closing ceremony will range from $175 to $1,100 – lower than the ceremonies tickets in Torino and the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City, according to the Vancouver Olympic Committee (VANOC). Approximately 30 percent of the tickets will be held for athletes and their families, National Olympic Committees and international sport federations, media and broadcasters and VANOC sponsors.

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“We’re doing everything possible to ensure that tickets are used, including working to develop an online ticket buy-and-sell exchange program that allows spectators with tickets who cannot attend an event to quickly exchange their tickets with other spectators who can,” Caley Denton, VANOC vice-president of ticketing and consumer marketing, said in a statement.

VANOC said tickets will be rolled out in phases, and in some instances, where the demand is high for certain events, use lotteries for ticket distribution.

“Attending the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games and sharing gold medal moments in one of the most beautiful settings in the world will be unforgettable,” said John Furlong, CEO of VANOC, which is responsible for the planning, organizing, financing and staging of the XXI Olympic Winter Games and the X Paralympic Winter Games. “Canada and the U.S. share a passion for winter sport. It’s part of our culture and we invite our neighbors from the U.S. to join us in 2010.”