Here’s a piece I wrote about the ticketing and empty seat fiasco of London 2012, how Locog are partly to blame and it will tarnish the games’ legacy if it not solved…
4 years ago, the British media (& no doubt the public behind) mocked Beijing’s Olympics; “Ha! They might of had a great opening ceremony, but look at all those empty seats. Shocking; you won’t see that here”. Okay, so that wasn’t exactly the words used, but it was by-and-large the sentiment expressed.
The British were right to be so optimistic though. After all, despite the fact we are somewhat perennial mediocre and have a fairly low participation rate. Britain is one of the most sport-loving nations in the world – IOC chief, Jacques Rogge, even named us the birthplace of modern sport.
And, as the first ticket window closed last spring, it appeared that empty venues would not be an issue of London 2012 with an unprecedented 1.8million people attempting to get tickets for the games. Overall, there were applications for over 20 million tickets; 3 times the 6.6 million available.
Thousands were thus left disappointed, either failing to get the tickets they really wanted or any at all. Even some of the athlete’s families were let empty-handed; current golden-boy Bradley Wiggins was one such star with London Mayor Boris Johnson also claiming he had failed to attain any for his family.
Fast-forward a year, and as the Olympic came about, we all expected chocker-full stadiums. This has been far from the case as huge swathes of seats are left vacant – including for big finals in events such as the equestrian, swimming and gymnastics.
It is puzzling and frustrating sight for the British public, especially for the thousands who toiled for hours in various different ballots to try and get tickets for the games and failed. The sight of empty venues must be both infuriating and disillusioning. After all, the huge crowds at both the cycling road race and time trial showed the extent of how people want to see some sporting action.
On a personal level, for example, I applied for multiple tennis tickets unsuccessfully; switching on the tv, I see big names stars of Sharapova, Federer, Murray all playing in front of half-empty crowds (Yes, thats half-empty; not half-full). It is a baffling sight.
And we aren’t talking about a few empty seats, dotted-around, here-and-there; but huge chunks and blocks of left unoccupied. Indeed, there seems to be some confusion over the true amount of free seats, with different figures of average 60,000 up to 120,000.
To read the rest of the article, check here.