Rio Olympics 2016: Empty seats solution? Organizers trying different options

Rio Olympics 2016: Empty seats solution? Organizers trying different options

Days into the 2016 Rio Olympics, organizers have reported that they had sold 87 percent or 5.7 million of the tickets they have available, leaving around a million more to be vended. This is a far cry from the last Olympics, where 8.2 million out of 8.5 million tickets were sold in London. At an Olympics already plagued with a myriad of issues, these empty seats present another problem for organizers.

Though usual draws, like Michael Phelps’ events or the US men’s basketball matches were able to fill the Olympic venues, other events which typically drew in crowds were near empty. Usain Bolt’s mad dash at the men’s 100m sprint, on Sunday, was witnessed by a noticeably smaller audience, with a few thousand seats empty. Shaunae Miller’s diving finish was seen by far less people, with bleachers upon bleachers empty during the women’s 400m event.

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Organizers are partially blaming the low turnout at events to the long lines, and challenging transport system to get to the Olympic venues. Olympics spokesperson Mario Andrada indicated that they are already exploring other viable options to increase sales, as the issue is becoming worrisome.

“If we find an ingenious way to sell more tickets, we will do so,” he said to press during a media briefing adding “It worries us but in a constructive manner.”

The low turn-out was also attributed to the hesitation of guests of corporate sponsors to attend the games, due to fears of the Zika virus, political unrest and public safety. Almost a third of the sponsors’ tickets have been returned and resold to the general public.

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On top of this, the Rio Paralympics tickets sales have also been doing poorly selling only 300,000 of the 2.5 million available seats for the games. This has also become an alarming issue since tickets for the Paralympics have already been dropped to as low as $3.

While organizers deserve the commendation for their efforts to address issues like Zika, security and water pollution, the empty seats at Rio still attest to the fact that this has been an Olympics, marred with many problems.

Photo Courtesy: Eric Kilby/ Flickr