London Scrambles as Seats Sit Empty

Hundreds of seats unfilled as ticketholders don't show
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 29, 2012 1:20 PM CDT
Spectators sit among empty seats before Egypt's group C men's soccer match against New Zealand at the London Summer Olympics, Sunday, July 29, 2012.   (AP Photo/Jon Super)
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(Newser) – For months, tickets for London 2012 events have been so impossible to lay hands on that organizers have had to resort to ... filling vast swaths of empty seats with servicemembers? Yesterday's first full day of competition showcased hundreds of unfilled seats, even in primetime events such as swimming and gymnastics, reports the Wall Street Journal. At fault is unclaimed tickets from corporate sponsors and other bigwigs who don't bother to show up, particularly for preliminary events. Yet London organizer Sebastian Coe, when confronted with a picture of the vacant seats, insisted that venues were "stuffed to the gullets."

He later recognized the issue, reports Sky News, saying that organizers "take it seriously" and that it was early stages yet. Meantime, seats are in fact being given to servicemembers, teachers, and students, reports the AP, and officials are calling for a 30-minute grace period before ticketholders lose their seats. Meanwhile, unticketed events such as cycling have in fact been stuffed to the gullets, with throngs lining the roadside. If that doesn't soon hold true for ticketed events, heads may well roll. "We need every seat filled," says the head of the British Olympic Association. "We owe it to the team, we owe it to British sports fans the length and breadth of the country."

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