As the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games has released 3,000 tickets originally reserved for officials who failed to show up, who is really to blame for the rows of empty seats?
As far as I’m concerned, the empty seats aren’t Locog’s fault. In fact, I don’t even blame the Games’ sponsors – they’ve paid for their tickets, so I’d say that gives them the right not to use them. After all, it’s their money they’re wasting.
However, the position is different for any tickets that have been given to Olympic officials and their families for free. If they fail to show up to the events for which they hold tickets, I’d consider billing them for the full cost of a ticket. With valuable track-side seats, that’d soon encourage ticket holders to turn up.
Getting tough on no-shows
As for any seats that remain empty, if I were in charge, I’d give ticket-holders up to an hour’s grace to allow for traffic hold-ups and other delays. After that, why not either allow ticket-holders who did turn up to move forward into these premium seats, or sell the tickets at the Olympic site on a first-come, first-served basis.
So far though, I’d say Locog has played it about right. They’re currently making tickets available when they can – for example, tickets returned by officials are being made available on the London 2012 website to buy every day after midnight, for that day’s events.
So, if you check the website after midnight tonight (Tuesday 31st July), you could get tickets for Tuesday’s events. That’s not much good if you need to travel from areas outside the south east or if you need to book time off work, but it’s certainly better than nothing.
Another way to get your hands on tickets is to buy those that have been returned by spectators who have left the Olympic site early. You need to be on-site to buy these, so it’s most useful for those who have day-passes already.
Key Seats programme
Other tickets are being allocated to young people, locals, and those who have played an active part in their local community under the ‘Key Seats’ programme. This includes spare seats being allocated to those off-duty soldiers who have been drafted in to deal with site security.
There’s been justified criticism of Locog’s ticketing arrangements in the run-up to the Games. On this occasion though, I think they’ve done all they can under the circumstances. If you were in charge for a day, how would you deal with all the officials who didn’t show up and the numerous empty seats?