SBD/August 2, 2012/Olympics

Moynihan Still Concerned About Empty Seats, But LOCOG Calls Progress Successful

The Opening Ceremony stadium conversion opened more seats which can now be used
British Olympic Association Chair Colin Moynihan today said that he “remained concerned about the empty seats at the London Olympics, saying it was ‘unfair’ on Britain's competing athletes,” according to Avril Ormsby of REUTERS. Moynihan said, "I don't feel any more relaxed today than I did two days ago. There's some initiatives that LOCOG have tried to take, (Culture and Sport Secretary) Jeremy Hunt is still looking into this, but it is a subject which has got to tax the minds of those who are responsible for the ticketing each and every day between now and the end of the Games." A LOCOG spokesperson responded to his comments saying, "Colin should come and talk to us if he has got other ideas." The spokesperson said, "We actually think that we are moving through this quite successfully, to have 80 percent of the accredited seating filled yesterday, which was a very, very different situation to what it looked like on Monday" (REUTERS, 8/2).

NEW TRACK TICKETS AVAILABLE: In London, Sam Masters reports up to 1,600 tickets for track and field events will be "put on sale at the last minute.” LOCOG CEO Paul Deighton said that tickets had been “held back until now so that views from certain seats were unrestricted.” Deighton: “You sort of hold them back to make sure all the seats work and all the views are not restricted. So as we're seeing how every venue works we are releasing the final tickets.” The news will be “welcomed by fans who have struggled to get tickets.”  (London INDEPENDENT, 8/2). LOCOG said that the “final conversion of the stadium after last week’s opening ceremony had opened up several spaces in which seats can now be placed” (London TELEGRAPH, 8/2).

DOUBLE DUTY: In a separate piece, the TELEGRAPH’s Kirkup reports Olympic volunteers are "reportedly being told to bring a spare shirt to work to fill spare seats without being conspicuous, amid criticism over the spectacle of halfempty venues.” Volunteers said that managers had asked some of them to “bring clothes into which they could change, so that they could blend in while taking up vacant spaces in VIP areas.” LOCOG said that it was “not trying to cover up the use of volunteers to fill seats” (London TELEGRAPH, 8/2). In Charlotte, Scott Fowler writes, “I have talked to a number of Londoners in subways and other public places about the ‘empty-seat’ problem these Olympics are having, and that is by far their biggest issue with these Olympics” (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 8/2).

CROWD SURFING: In Miami, Michelle Kaufman notes there was a "spirited crowd of 28,000 at the Lord’s Cricket Ground” for the archery competition yesterday (MIAMI HERALD, 8/2). The AP’s Paul White wrote under the header, “Once Banned, Women’s Soccer Thriving At Olympics.” The 18 women's games played so far at the Olympics have “averaged 22,242, although officials at the games in Scotland said tens of thousands of tickets were given away.” The crowd of 14,753 attending the Canada-South Africa match in Coventry is “definitely not the norm.” White asked, "Might the London Games finally get the women's game firmly on the sporting radar in Britain, much the same way that the Atlanta Olympics put U.S. women's soccer on the map in 1996?” (AP, 8/1).

ALL SALES ARE FINAL:
Deighton said that spectators at Tuesday night’s controversial badminton competitions involving the disqualifications of four teams “will not be offered a refund.” Deighton: “They did get to see another game, it was not a one-off game. No one has asked for a refund, if we did you get into strange precedents and very grey and dangerous territory” (TELEGRAPH.co.uk, 8/1). Meanwhile, the U.K. Office of Fair Trading yesterday said that a “black market operation in London Olympics tickets has been stopped and buyers of 20,000 seats will be denied entry to venues.” The OFT said that a “joint operation with police had shut down websites run by Euroteam, an unauthorized ticket trader based in Oslo, Norway.” IOC Marketing Commission Chair Gerhard Heiberg said that it “was not clear if the seized tickets were sold to the black market by international sports officials” (AP, 8/2).
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