Mon, September 23, 2013

Olympics officials slowly filling empty seats

By QMI Agency


Spectacles like this, with fans sitting around empty seats at Olympic events in London — have riled would-be spectators and sparked action by organizers. (JIM YOUNG/Reuters)


LONDON - Reeling from the embarrassment of thousands of empty seats on the first weekend of the Games, London Olympics officials released 3,000 tickets for sale Sunday night.

Games spokeswoman Jackie Brock-Doyle said the tickets were returned by various international sports federations after they were asked to turn over ducats that may go unused.

“We’re doing this session by session, talking to accredited groups,” she said.

“Everybody is giving up what they can and it is session by session. So some sessions for example — beach volleyball — we have had returns probably of about 300 or 400 this morning, but for the evening sessions and the afternoon sessions it is less than that.”

She said there were 600 tickets re-sold for gymnastics Monday and she pledged organizers would seek unused tickets on a daily basis.

“Where we can, we are going to release those the night before and put them up for sale,” Brock-Doyle said.

Organizers have blamed ticket holders in accredited zones for being no-shows. Brock-Doyle said it’s difficult in some cases because the seating areas are “within a security bubble that makes it hard for us to do that.”

She did not give sales figures but said the returns are sport-by-sport. Accredited seating is 15% less than previous Games, she said.

There were 150 teachers and students with Olympic Park-only access Monday, which Brock-Doyle said would be expanded to 300 to 400 Tuesday. Hundreds of off-duty soldiers, part of the Games security detail, have shown up at venues to fill seats.

“We really are doing the best we can but it’s not an exact science, as we saw with swimming last night and with basketball and the American match yesterday,” Brock-Doyle said.

Organizers put 8.8 million tickets on sale in 2011, with three-quarters of them for the public, and forecast $974 million in revenue. But low demand for soccer tickets led to the withdrawal of 500,000 tickets from the market.