The familiar site of a huge sporting event with empty seats has struck again in Beijing it seems. Many of the lower profile events – despite being completely sold out! – have failed to draw a full crowd.
This is really upsetting for fans, particularly those who have not been able to purchase tickets legitimately, but would love to be in these empty seats. Bob is speaking from experience.
The Beijing organisers have said that they will be hiring “cheerleaders” who cheer for both teams to bolster the atmosphere. What a shame. Good job if you can get it though!
Of course this is not the first (or certainly the last) time that this has happened. Bob was is Japan in 2002 for the Football World Cup, where FIFA made a right royal mess out of the ticketing situation, leaving thousands of travelling fans outside half-empty stadia. (What made it worse in Japan was that not all of the matches were even televised locally, as the competition was so low-key!) And Bob has distinct memories of Raphael Nadal and Novak Djokovic walking onto court at Roland Garros to wage war in a semi-final in front of a fashionably later French crowd.
However BOCOG are not FIFA (thank Buddah!) and the enthusiastic Chinese crowds are far from the moody Parisians. One would be forgiven for expecting a full house for every single event, with the level of excitement that the organisers have whipped up in China.
Some people are blaming corporate ticket allocations – fair enough, it is usually these seats that are empty in Football matches, or at Wimbledon. But speaking as someone who knows a number of people in some of the top Olympic sponsors (sorry, can’t name names) this doesn’t appear to be the case. Even they are finding it hard to get hold of the tickets.
So, it is a mystery. But until it is solved, Bob is off to volunteer as a cheerleader… now where to go, the Bird’s Nest, the velodrome…?