The mystery of the Olympics: Empty seats at sold out venues

The scenes have been surreal. At some of the highest profile Olympic events, hundreds of empty seats have appeared on televisions, outraging many who were told the events were sold out.

Reuters:

Dispiriting images of rows of vacant rows at football stadiums, Wimbledon, the aquatic center and beyond has angered Britons who tried and failed to buy tickets in the buildup 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 organizers 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 stadia," 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 stadia create the best atmosphere, it's best for the athletes, it's more fun for spectators and it has been an absolute priority."

The organizers claim it's not their fault, that the seats were mostly for corporate VIP's and sports officials. Desperate to cover up the embarrassment, they are handing out tickets to troops and students to fill the seats -- a move that won't endear them to people who payed for their tickets, or those who were unable to procure them.

One of many SNAFUs that are already affecting the games.

The scenes have been surreal. At some of the highest profile Olympic events, hundreds of empty seats have appeared on televisions, outraging many who were told the events were sold out.

Reuters:

Dispiriting images of rows of vacant rows at football stadiums, Wimbledon, the aquatic center and beyond has angered Britons who tried and failed to buy tickets in the buildup 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 organizers 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 stadia," 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 stadia create the best atmosphere, it's best for the athletes, it's more fun for spectators and it has been an absolute priority."

The organizers claim it's not their fault, that the seats were mostly for corporate VIP's and sports officials. Desperate to cover up the embarrassment, they are handing out tickets to troops and students to fill the seats -- a move that won't endear them to people who payed for their tickets, or those who were unable to procure them.

One of many SNAFUs that are already affecting the games.

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