LONDON - Anatolia News Agency
Soldiers sit in the empty seats as they watch the women’s gymnastics event.
Leaders of the London Olympics have vowed to find out why blocks of seats at highly sought events are lying empty and said they might set up new systems to ensure that those seats are filled, even if they have to be given away.
They were responding to widespread criticism from Saturday’s opening day of competition, when whole sections of lower-tier seats were largely empty at events including tennis, gymnastics and swimming. By contrast, an estimated 1 million people lined the route of Saturday’s outdoor cycling, an unticketed and free event.
Sebastian Coe, chairman of the London organizing committee, and British Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt said they suspected that most of the no-shows were the guests of the games’ corporate sponsors. Coe said the committee might name and shame those responsible if they don’t take steps to get real fans in the seats.
“We think the seats 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. So we’re looking at this very urgently,” Hunt said.