Is China Faking The Fans Too?
After the faux pas of the opening ceremony, where officials admitted featuring one girl on stage instead of another for her attractive looks, there has been yet another allegation at the organising committee.
There were entire sections of empty seats behind both goals at the team handball stadium on Monday. Next to them were sections packed with fans dressed in identical shirts, pounding inflated bats and being led in rehearsed cheers.
That emptiness and eagerness in a single frame provided two early mysteries to these supposedly sold-out Games.
Though these Games are being run with predictable, well-mannered efficiency and few logistical snags, the most sensitive issue facing the organising committee has emerged quickly — Why the empty seats?
And, oh, by the way, who are those uniformed cheerers so enthusiastically providing bursts of colour and choreographed chaos at archery and wrestling, and most events in between?
Empty seats are not an uncommon problem at the Olympics, in part because corporate sponsors receive most of the best tickets. Beijing organising committee officials said that not all of those tickets were being used.
“It is a challenge for us,” Wang Wei, executive vice president of the committee, said on Sunday. “We are now in the process of trying to manage that.”
But, while many athletes have been thrilled to compete in front of far more fans than they are accustomed to, nearly every event has had at least a noticeable smattering of empty seats. Most arenas have been about three-quarters full, with a few barely half full.
On Monday, the competition sites for tennis, boxing, basketball, field hockey and handball were among those with large splotches of empty seats. The 10,000-seat centre court at the Olympic Green Tennis Centre was about three-quarters full for Roger Federer’s match against Dmitry Tursunov. Even seats at swimming events were vacant.
Mostly, however, the Beijing organising committee pointed toward the corporate sponsors for the plight.
“Sponsors may give their tickets to their friends and important customers and they may not appreciate as much and come to the preliminaries,” Wang said. “We are trying to persuade people to respect their rights to watch the Games.” (DNA News)
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