London 2012 Olympics empty seats spark spectators’ anger and organisers’ inquiry

A probe is under way into how day one of the Olympics was slightly marred by the sight of many empty seats in venues.

Rows of empty spaces were visible at a number of venues, including the Aquatics Centre as well as the gymnastics, handball, volleyball, badminton and basketball arenas.

Cheaper seats higher in the stands were mostly full but it was the generally more expensive seats lower down which were not filled.

Basketball spectator Jane Smith, from London, said: “It’s very disappointing to see this, particularly as we all tried so hard to get our tickets. It doesn’t help the atmosphere at all.”

Other fans took to Twitter to express their concerns.

One fan wrote: “All those empty seats should have been given to the locals or sold on first come first serve on the day. Games are looking real empty!”

A spokesman for Locog said the majority of the empty seats were believed to belong to accredited groups such as governing bodies and the media.

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He added that some tickets remained unsold and urged members of the public to check online for opportunities to attend the games.

Culture secretary Jeremy Hunt said the empty seats were “very disappointing” and suggested they could be offered to members of the public.

He added: “I was at the Beijing Games, in 2008, and one of the lessons that we took away from that, is that full stadia create the best atmosphere, it’s best for the athletes, it’s more fun for the spectators, it’s been an absolute priority.

“Locog are doing a full investigation into what happened, I think it was accredited seats that belonged to sponsors, but if they’re not going to turn up, we want those tickets to be available for members of the public, because that creates the best atmosphere.

“We are looking at this very urgently at the moment.”