London: In scenes reminiscent of the controversy over empty seats during the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, organisers of the ongoing Olympics have been hard pressed to explain rows upon rows of empty stands at several Olympics events.
Nearly 120,000 seats remained empty on the first two days at events such as the Aquatic centre.
Other popular events such as gymnastics, tennis and swimming also had swathes of empty seats despite members of the public being told that they were sold out.
One solution to the problem the embarrassed organisers have thought of is to fill the empty seats with soldiers and students. There is also the likelihood that some events may just be thrown open to the public to come in.
During the 2008 Beijing Olympics too, organisers had to bring in many spectators by buses to fill the empty seats.
The reason for some of the seats remaining empty is that they were reserved for dignitaries who did not turn up, while others were among 120,000 unsold tickets allocated to foreign countries which have not returned them.
Around eight per cent of tickets have been made available to sponsors and three quarters to the public. Another 12 percent go to National Olympic Committees and five per cent to the ‘Olympic family’ of athletes and officials.
A bigger problem is said to be from the agencies who handle the sale of the tickets abroad.
Up to 70,000 of those tickets could be simply thrown away because it is not cost-efficient for ticket agencies to return them, The Telegraph reported.
Athletes who were unable to get tickets for their families to watch them compete say it is “absurd” and ”ridiculous” that whole blocks of seats remained empty at some venues.
As public anger mounted, organisers announced that more tickets will be made available to the public on a daily basis.