Remember that great scandal that rocked the Olympics, G4S? That pre-Games row has been completely eclipsed, at least for now, by the rows and rows of empty seats at supposedly sell-out Olympic venues.
It turns out that those seats, often situated below the masses of people who shelled out a pretty penny for their own seats, belong to sponsors, who have either failed to fill them, or who have given the tickets to people who just haven’t turned up.
Locog has launched an investigation, which it needs to conclude and find a solution to the problem as soon as possible. Those forlorn rows of seats are giving out the wrong message about who the Games are for. The opening ceremony encouraged an explosion of goodwill across the country because it was about ordinary people: farmers, factory workers, soldiers, families, teenagers and thousands of excited, beaming athletes. One of the few well-known faces who appeared during Danny Boyle’s creation was Tim Berners-Lee, the humblest revolutionary who gifted the internet to people for free rather than his own profit. But the empty seats scandal reminds viewers that the Olympics are as much about corporate greed – the Zil lanes, bans on rival logos and celebrities carrying the torch through towns they’ve never visited before – as they are about the athletes. Worse: it’s about corporate greed that pays no more than lip service to sport itself.
Locog could turn a souring public mood around by announcing today or tomorrow that it is giving free tickets to the troops, or putting hundreds up for resale (preferably on a site that doesn’t crash, as it did last night when a number of tickets mysteriously appeared for sale). But it needs to move quickly.Tags: Olympics