2012 London Summer Olympics

[ Check Out Stunning Pictures from the Opening Ceremony ]

A storm is brewing in London and at the center of the controversy are the swathes of empty seats at the various Olympic Games venues. An embarrassed London Olympic Games Organizing Committee (LOCOG) and the Games chairman, former legendary athlete, Sebastian Coe, were left red faced as they faced the ire of the public, who were told the tickets were oversubscribed.

Reports late on Sunday evening suggested that British police could have already started investigating an alleged black-market link, though organizers said that the empty seats belonged to accredited bodies, such as the International Olympic Committee (IOC), sponsors and the international press, which had done a vanishing act.

Usually, a huge chunk of tickets is set aside for IOC delegates, international federation officials and leading sponsors and Coe said that the empty stands were because they had failed to turn up in large numbers, though he was optimistic that as the event progresses, the venues would be packed to the rafters.

Even as the Games chairman put up a brave front, the LOCOG and the IOC indicated they were seriously looking into the matter after television channels showed rows of empty seats at blue riband events, such as tennis (Wimbledon) and swimming (Aquatics Centre).

Britain's culture minister, Jeremy Hunt, was quoted as telling the media that the sight of empty seats was portraying a gloomy picture of the Games, despite the fact that the public was willing to pay even exorbitant sums to watch their favorite events.

The huge crowds that dotted London streets to witness their cycling heroes in road race action on Friday (tickets were not required for the event), was enough indication that spectators were willing to pay but were confused whether tickets were available in the first place.

There is growing anger in the public against corporate ticket-holders, who have bought tickets in bulk but are not showing up at the venues. The minister told a leading news channel that he had watched the Beijing Games too and the packed stadia there created an electric atmosphere. "It's good for the athletes, it's more fun for the spectators," Hunt was quoted as saying.

The public is demanding that the seats earmarked for sponsors (accredited seats) be put on sale so that they could watch the action before it is too late. A leading London daily reported on Sunday that British police had started a probe into the "black-market sale of the tickets by three official ticket agents". The news couldn't be verified independently.

The newspaper reportedly has about 20 hours of recordings indicating to the nexus.

Coe said that his priority would be to ensure full spectatorship at venues which are seeing sparse crowds. The Games chairman said he was working out ways to ensure that, including allowing soldiers, involved in security operations, to fill up the empty seats.

The public is also blaming the 'secretive' online ticketing system and the entire system of bidding, which they say, has resulted in this mess. Most of the people were put off by the high cost of tickets, which got further inflated due to the bidding process.



Olympic Tickets Sold Out Yet Stadiums Are Empty