After the excitement over the opening ceremony have settled in, the organizers of the Olympic Games in London are waking up to the harsh reality of failed expectations: the many too many empty seats at the stadiums.
The problem is not just isolated to the less popular sports, but also big audience disciplines such as swimming, tennis, basket, and soccer are not competing in view of a full house. The initial rounds so far have rarely sold out.
The London Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) has initiated an investigation into why there are so many empty seats at the stadiums. Especially taking into account that there was a really high demand for tickets in the months leading up to the opening ceremony and many people could not get a hold of the ones they wanted. In fact, before the Games started, 8,8 millions tickets were sold, which beg the question — where are these tickets being used?
According to the investigations, the empty seats are those provided to media, government authorities and sponsors.
The organizing committee chairman, former athlete Sebastian Coe, has threatened to name the sponsors who have not filled their seats. The controversy has even made the British Sports Minister Hugh Robertson say that he is “very disappointing” to see the empty seats.
Coe has said that he will try to fill up the stadiums by offering the empty seats to the army personel that helps with security within the Olympic village, and to teachers and students in the area, as long as it means putting more tickets on sale. This last action worked on Sunday 29, where 3,000 tickets were sold through the Olympics website.
Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt called the situation ‘very disappointing’ and said that they might try selling the sponsor-reserved tickets: “I think it was accredited seats that belonged to sponsors, but if they’re not going to turn up, we want those tickets to be available for members of the public, because that creates the best atmosphere. We are looking at this very urgently at the moment.”
Jackie Brock-Doyle, director of communications for the London organizers, or LOCOG said that they are working on solutions: “We are trying everything we can to make sure that those accredited seats are filled where we can.”