Organisers act to to fill empty seats


Some 3,000 Olympics tickets from international sports federations were “put back in the pot” last night and sold to the public, the London organising committee (LOCOG) said today.

The move came after the sights of swathes of empty seats at events in the first days of the Games prompted anger from people who had struggled to get tickets.

London 2012 chairman Sebastian Coe had promised to urge international federations to make sure they used areas reserved for them to avoid embarrassment.

Jackie Brock-Doyle, Locog’s director of communications, said they had been able to get back 3,000 and re-sell them - a move they will do each day to make sure as many seats as possible are filled.

“We talked to the International Federations yesterday, we were able to put back into the pot for sale around 3,000 tickets last night, they have all been sold,” she said.

“That includes about 600 for the gymnastics event today and we’re going to do that on a day-to-day basis.”

She said they were talking to accredited groups, including broadcast media and seeing if they can release some tickets.

“Where we can we are going to release those the night before and put them up for sale.

“Three thousand went up for sale last night and they have all been sold this morning.”

Ms Brock-Doyle said the number of seats given up depended on the sport, and in some situations also depended on security arrangements, but in those cases, they had contingency plans involving giving seats to troops or students and

“Everybody is giving up what they can and it is session by session so some sessions, for example of beach volleyball we have had returns of probably about 300-400 this morning, but for the evening sessions and the afternoon sessions
it’s less.

“We are literally doing it session-by-session.”

Asked if they had “got it wrong”, she said: “We are trying everything we can to make sure that those accredited seats are filled where we can.

“There are operational issues that make it difficult to fill some of those seats which is why we are making them available to the troops and to the teachers and the children.

“We had a plan in place for the teachers and the children over a year ago that we employ. There’s 150 children and teachers on the park today, that’s only for the park, we will increase that to about 300-400 tomorrow.

“We really are doing the best we can, but it’s not an exact science as we saw with swimming last night and basketball and the American match yesterday.”

British shadow Olympics minister Dame Tessa Jowell, who held the post in 2005 when Britain won the right to hold the Games, today demanded urgent action to end the issue.

She told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: “We’ve got to get people into those seats today, tomorrow and the next day.

“I think the measures Seb Coe announced yesterday go quite a long way into that, together with the recycling of tickets for people who are already in the park.

“This is very important for the confidence of the British public.”

About 50 seats previously classed as restricted view and unoccupied during the first two days of the badminton at Wembley Arena were filled today by members of the RAF and Army security teams.

Apart from two other rows of restricted-view seats, the 4,800-capacity venue has been close to full for all sessions.

Sir Clive Woodward, Team GB’s deputy chef de mission, told the BBC: “I was in Beijing and, to put it in perspective, I was going to tennis matches and hockey matches in Beijing where there was nobody there.”

He added: “You can see it doesn’t look right, but I feel a bit for LOCOG as well because they’re trying to keep everyone happy.

“I can see how it looks and you feel for the people at home who’d love to be there.

“I know they’re working on it. As we speak now they’re trying to work out ways of trying to fix it.”

Kate Hoey, MP for Vauxhall in south London and Labour’s former sports minister, told BBC radio: “I think what they have done is probably allocated too many to each international Olympic committee and that could be changed pretty quickly.

“The important thing is to get the seats filled with people, but if we can get some youngsters who would never have had the chance to get in, let’s go for it.”