Making promises or guarantees to the media is a tricky game to play – if you don’t deliver they are more than likely to remind you. After the Beijing Olympics, London 2012 chairman, Lord Coe promised that he would do everything in his power to prevent one of the biggest problems they experienced – empty seats.
Sure enough this promise came back to haunt him when, on one of the first days of the London games spectators complained about the amount of empty seats at a number of Olympic venues.
LOCOG said: “Many of our venues were packed to the rafters today. Where there are empty seats, we will look at who should have been sitting in the seats, and why they did not attend … Early indications are that the empty seats are in accredited seating areas.” Essentially the blame was laid at the feet of the media and sponsors, and the “Olympic family” as they are collectively known.
Professional Manager suggested ways of managing out the problem earlier this week. But, at the halfway point of the games, the problem just rumbles on, with the British Olympic Association (BOA) expressing its regret that the voids remain.
Lord Coe had previously threatened to name and shame organisations that didn’t use their tickets, but there’s no sign of this so far. LOCOG also hope that as the finals approach there’s less chance that people will miss out on being there in person.
There has been a clear push for those with tickets to actually show up, large numbers of tickets to be resold on the official website and even for seats to be made available to the armed forces members who were on site helping with the organising.
There’s a week left to make amends. But sadly, if they are not made, these Games might be forever remembered as the “empty-seat Olympics”.
Will Edwards is managing director of media training consultancy Bluewood Training