Empty seats embarrass London as Games get underway
After the party to end all parties, mood is spoiled by seats left unused by IOC guests
THE OLYMPIC games has its first scandal: hundreds of embarrassing empty seats at events which were officially sold out, including volleyball, gymnastics and swimming heats.
The empty seas should have been filled by members of the 'Olympic family' – including international federations, national governing bodies, athletes, IOC officials and media representatives.
Culture secretary Jeremy Hunt, responsible for the Games, has promised that the organisers are looking into the situation "very urgently", reports the BBC. The problem was particularly bad on Saturday morning, after the triumphant opening ceremony, which went on until 1am.
There was widespread condemnation that seats were being left empty when members of the public had tried and failed to buy tickets for events. A woman from Kent, Susan Stoker, told The Observer she was disappointed.
"We tried every single time to get tickets and all we cold get were tickets that got us into the Park," she said. "I'm less than happy with that situation, when you think of the amount of time we wasted trying to get tickets."
The problem was exacerbated by the fact that, even though Locog has an official 'fans at the front' policy, some of the empty seats were in lower stands, more visible to TV audiences around the world.
A spokesman for Locog said: "Many of our venues were packed to the rafters today. Where there are empty seats, we will look at who should have been sitting in the seats, and why they did not attend.
"Early indications are that the empty seats are in accredited seating areas, but this is day one, and our end of day review will provide a fuller picture of attendance levels across all our venues."
Meanwhile, The Sunday Times reports that Scotland Yard has launched an investigation into the mass black-market selling of tickets by Olympic officials, uncovered by the paper's Insight team in June.
Detectives will seek to question official ticket agents for the Olympic committees of China, Serbia and Lithuania. They could make several arrests during the games, the paper predicts. ·