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SBD Global/February 13, 2014/Olympics
Putin Warms To Olympics Opening Days As Criticism Becomes Background Noise
Published February 13, 2014
ATTENDANCE STILL A CONCERN: The GLOBE & MAIL's Mark MacKinnon noted the "biggest lingering concerns" by Tuesday were the balmy weather and "poorer-than-expected attendance." During the first days of the Games, "rafts of empty seats were visible ... particularly at less-popular events, like biathlon, slopestyle and cross-country skiing." Concerns rose after "just 6,000 of 7,500 seats were filled for the men’s downhill race on Sunday, traditionally one of the bigger Winter Olympic draws." IOC Marketing Committee Chair Gerhard Heiberg said, “There are not enough people" (GLOBE & MAIL, 2/12). SOCOG Head of Ticketing Dmitry Perlin said ticket sales are "significantly above our expectations." SOCOG on Tuesday announced nearly 925,000 tickets "have been sold so far" for the Games. Perlin said that 70-75% of the tickets "have gone to Russians while Japan and Germany sold out their quotas" (AP, 2/11). In N.Y., Gregory White wrote the "hundreds of thousands of Russians with tickets to the Winter Games have so far been more stoic than stoked, more Bolshoi than Boston Garden." There is "little to rival the earthshaking 'U-S-A' chants of big American crowds, or the deafening vuvuzela horns that blared" during the '10 World Cup in South Africa. The Russian crowd "occasionally chants 'Ros-see-ya,' Russian for Russia, but rarely for more than a few beats." At some venues, they are "drowned out by smaller groups of fans from rowdier countries, including the Dutch" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 2/12).
ONE REASON FOR A MUTED CROWD: Also in N.Y., Brian Costa noted a new Russian federal law last year "prohibited the sale of alcohol inside sports stadiums and arenas," and a local ordinance last month "banned alcohol sales within 50 meters of some sports venues." The approach reflects the "unpleasant memories of drunken, unruly fans at the last Winter Games in Vancouver." However, in the mountain Olympic venues, which are outdoors and "not subject to restrictions, the alcohol flows freely." Fans at the snowboard halfpipe yesterday "drank from cans of alcoholic Baltika and cups of mulled wine" (WSJ, 2/12).