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Why are there so many empty seats at The Olympics?



Since the Opening Ceremony on Friday night, there’s not really much else to talk about apart from The Olympics. The BBC coverage starts before I wake up and finishes after I go to bed, so if that’s all the BBC is reporting on, then obviously that’s all that’s going on in the world.

I love the Olympics. Even though I don’t live in London or have tickets to any events, it’s great to get into the spirit of the games and I watch as many events as I can. It’s pretty ironic how the biggest sporting event in the world turns everyone bar the athletes into couch potatoes for a fortnight. My boyfriend and I spent a good half day watching the men’s cycling road race on his 21st birthday, rather than maybe going out and doing some cycling of our own.

But of course, with every Olympic Games, there are always problems which grab headlines, and London’s already had its fair share. Firstly, G4S failed to provide enough security staff for the games and had to be bailed out by British troops to make up for the thousands of security guards that were needed. Massive fail.

Then, there was the threat of border staff strikes the day before the Olympic Ceremony, which was condemned by David Cameron. Apart from evoking a ‘tut tut’ from US Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, the threat didn’t seem to amount to anything.

To many people’s surprise (especially mine), the Opening Ceremony itself seemed to go swimmingly – although I think the whole world was extremely disappointed that The Queen didn’t actually jump out of the helicopter. To be honest, I didn’t really have great expectations for the Opening Ceremony or for the London Olympics in general; we British have a unique ability to muck things up at the last possible minute. Needless to say, I’m impressed so far.

Although, there’s one thing that’s really getting on my nerves: the empty seats. Even though I don’t have any tickets, doesn’t mean I didn’t apply for any; I did. I just didn’t get any. Back in March, when the tickets first went on sale, there was a fiasco about there being only a limited amount of tickets available to the public, with a staggering amount being given to sponsors, Olympic Committee members and corporate members. Now, the Olympics are here, they’re not even turning up; ridiculous!

The Guardian reported that on Sunday morning there were an estimated 2,000 empty seats at the basketball match between Nigeria and Tunisia. Out of those 2,000 empty seats, 70% were allocated to sponsors and Olympic officials. Furthermore, over 300 seats at the morning's gymnastics were unfilled and around 2,500 were empty during the heats at the Aquatics Centre.

The empty seats are not only an annoyance for the millions of Brits who are sat at home watching the games on their TVs, when they could actually be experiencing the action for themselves; it's also a massive embarrassment for the UK. As the Games are broadcasted all over the world, so are the empty seats, much to Lord Coe's dismay.

Why are there so many empty seats? My best bet would've been that the thousands of sponsors and members of the press were ridiculously hung-over from the Opening Ceremony...maybe not. The BBC has reported that the sponsors have confirmed that the empty seats are not their responsibility (surpirse, surprise). Companies such as McDonald's and Coca-Cola put out statements yesterday saying that they're filling their places with competition winners, partners, customers and employees.

What's the solution?

Well, Lord Coe is going to tell off the naughty "Olympic Family" members who haven't turned up when they said they would. In the meantime, soldiers and local London students have been ushered in to fill the seats before a real solution is found. In my opinion, the best thing to do is to give the tickets to real sports fans who actually want to go to the events. If you want true British Olympics spirit Lord Coe, you know what you've got to do.

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Tagged with: Empty Seats, Lord Coe, Opening Ceremony, Public Relations, Refresh PR, The Olympics