Vacant Olympic Seats Filled as Tickets Released to Public

Thousands of tickets for sold-out London Olympics events will be made available daily to the public after rows of empty seats were visible during the first weekend of the games, organizers said.

All 3,000 recalled tickets placed into the public pot yesterday were sold, including 600 for today’s men’s gymnastics team final, Jackie Brock-Doyle, director of communications for the London organizers, or LOCOG, said in an interview.

Some vacant seats were filled by military personnel and children at the weekend events, and ticket-holding fans were told they could upgrade from cheaper areas of the venues.

“We are trying everything we can to make sure that those accredited seats are filled where we can,” Brock-Doyle said. “There are operational issues that make it difficult to fill those seats, which is why we are making available to the troops, and to the teachers and to the children.”

At least some of the seats were part of the allotment for what the International Olympic Committee refers to as the “Olympic Family.” That group includes sports federations, television rights holders, Olympic committee officials, and sponsors such as the Coca-Cola Co. (KO), Visa Inc. (V) and Samsung Electronics Co. (005930)

“So we’re doing this session-by-session, talking to the accredited, including broadcast, media and everybody else and asking whether we can release for the different sessions tickets back into the public pot,” Brock-Doyle said.

Ticket Scalping

Rows of vacant seats were visible at weekend events after fans had been unable to buy tickets. Some fans wanting access to popular events have been scammed into buying fake tickets from unauthorized sellers, and the Metropolitan Police Service has arrested 29 people for ticket scalping since the beginning of the games.

Tickets were made available yesterday for beach volleyball, water polo, swimming, handball, and equestrian events, according to Brock-Doyle.

“The ticket sales are going well,” the spokeswoman said. “They’re going very strongly. Ticketmaster is selling tickets and they’re only selling tickets online. So the box offices are only for collection of tickets that have been bought.”

Asking accredited ticket holders to return tickets on a session-by-session basis is “not an exact science,” she said.

“We have not had any conversations in this area with LOCOG or the IOC,” Cornel Marculescu, executive director of FINA, the international swimming federation, told the Guardian today in an interview.

Marculescu said he hadn’t agreed to hand back tickets after LOCOG said it had reclaimed 100 tickets, according to the Guardian.

“Everybody is giving up what they can,” Brock-Doyle said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sofia Horta e Costa in London at shortaecosta@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Elser at celser@bloomberg.net

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