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Outrage in Britain over the empty seats at the London Games stadiums

Monday, July 30th 2012 - 05:03 UTC
Full article 22 comments
Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt, one of the lessons from Beijing was that full stadiums create the best atmosphere Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt, one of the lessons from Beijing was that full stadiums create the best atmosphere

Organisers fought to quell growing public outrage over empty seats across venues at the London Olympic Games where China has laid down an early marker with a world record win in the pool and a commanding early lead in the medals table.

Dispiriting images of rows of vacant rows at football stadiums, Wimbledon, the aquatic centre and beyond has angered Britons who tried and failed to buy tickets in the build-up to the Games having been told they had sold out.

More empty seats were reported on Sunday including at the equestrian dressage at Greenwich Park, despite the draw of Queen Elizabeth's granddaughter Zara Phillips making an Olympic debut.

Heavy rain after a hot, dry spell also put a dampener on outdoor events on the second day of full sporting contest, as did the announcement that Uzbek gymnast Luiza Galiulina was provisionally banned from the Games for a positive drugs test.

Olympic organisers launched an urgent inquiry into the seating fiasco to nail down precisely who had not taken up their places and why, given the degree of public outcry.

“It is a shame this happened but we are going to do everything we can to make sure we fill up those stadiums” said Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt, the British minister responsible for the Olympics.

“I was at the Beijing Games in 2008 and one of the lessons we took away from that was that full stadiums create the best atmosphere, it's best for the athletes, it's more fun for spectators and it has been an absolute priority.”

The embarrassment took some of the shine off the Games, where sport has began in earnest after a surreal and exuberant opening ceremony on Friday night which thrilled Britain but baffled much of the world because of its arty eccentricity and the fact that Olympic Games are an international celebration.

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  • Idlehands

    I'm going Saturday - I figured that if the Olympics are being held roughly a kilometre from my home and I don't bother to attend then I'm unlikely to ever go.

    Women's hockey......err.....some sort of game where women whack balls with sticks. My hope is that the Australian side are hot.

    Jul 30th, 2012 - 06:48 am 0
  • Teaboy2

    I don't see what the big deal is really - Lots of sporting venues have empty seats on the best of days, the fact it was raining yesterday will have kept some people away. Not only that, just because cooperations have been given free tickets for their employees and to give them out as competitions, it doesn't mean those that got the tickets wanted to go and its not like we can force them. If anything Locog simply gave too many away to cooperations (8% was allocated to them) so if anything Locog only have themselves to blame, not to mention the shamble of the ticket balloting, where a lot that wanted tickets couldn't even get them.

    Besides, must people are happy to just sit and watch at home, i for one will not be travelling 300 miles down to london. If anything they should have held the games in a City that was more central, like Manchester. Making the games more accessible to people living in other parts of the country.

    Jul 30th, 2012 - 07:46 am 0
  • Frank

    Seems the seats at the beach volleyball had been sold... but the people didn't turn up....
    Argentinians had booked the seats.... couldn't get the $US to pay for the trip......

    Jul 30th, 2012 - 09:42 am 0
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