London Olympics organizers have given British troops, teachers and schoolchildren from poor neighborhoods free tickets Sunday to fill vacant rows, a sight that has been causing controversy.
The London organizing committee (LOCOG) was forced to launch an investigation after blocks of empty seats in prime positions at supposedly “sold out” events led to public outrage.
The events included the swimming, tennis and gymnastics, and showed up on TV coverage of the first weekend of Olympic competition as slabs of empty space.
Organizing chief Sebastian Coe said Sunday that going forward, seats left unused — mainly by the “Olympic family” of sponsors and sports officials for whom they were reserved — would “not be an issue” going forward.
“It is obvious, some of those seats are not being used in the early rounds,” he said, the Associated Press reported.
While earlier promising to “name and shame” Olympic sponsors if they did not use their allocations, he did not directly blame them.
Meanwhile, the UK minister responsible for the Olympics, Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt, said that the organizing committee was “doing a full investigation into what happened,” according to the Washington Post.
“We think it was accredited seats that belong to sponsors, but if they are not going to turn up, we want those tickets to be available for members of the public, because that creates the best atmosphere.”