The organisers of Rio de Janeiro’s 2016 Olympic Games have stated their event will see fewer empty seats than London 2012, adding that a ‘fill the stadiums’ plan will be put in place to avoid such issues.
Following Beijing’s struggle to fill its venues four years ago, London 2012 has endured similar issues, forcing organisers to negotiate with international federations on a daily basis in a bid to reclaim some seats for the public. With many people having been unsuccessful in securing Games tickets, the sight of empty seats has provoked anger, with the situation being attributed to Games officials and athletes’ friends and family failing to take up prime ‘accredited seating’ for events.
British Olympic Association (BOA) chairman Colin Moynihan last week called for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to implement a standardised ticketing platform for future Olympic Games, adding that the ticketing issue would be raised with the IOC at the post-Games briefing in Rio. Addressing the issue of filling sports venues, Rio 2016 chief executive Leonardo Gryner told reporters: “We will be able to have a much better result in Rio than London has had so far. We are trying to radically reduce the problem of empty seats.”
While Gryner failed to disclose Rio 2016’s specific plans to address the issue, he added: “It is not a problem exclusively in London, but for all organising committees. We have a programme called ‘fill the stadiums’ and some ideas to keep stadiums full at all times. There are several mechanisms that will be put into place. We hope to be better than London but it is not an easy challenge.”
Meanwhile, Gryner has maintained that Rio 2016’s showpiece venue will retain the name of Joao Havelange despite calls for the moniker of the disgraced sports official to be stripped from the stadium. Havelange played a key role in Rio securing the 2016 Games and his name is set to adorn the city’s Olympic Stadium. However, the former IOC member has also proved a controversial figure and last month was named alongside ex-Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) president Ricardo Teixeira as the figures at the centre of the ISL scandal.
FIFA’s former marketing partner collapsed in 2001, an episode that sparked a criminal investigation and exposed the practice of it buying influence from leading sports officials in return for handing the company lucrative World Cup broadcast and sponsorship rights during the 1990s. A Swiss court dossier stated that former FIFA president Havelange received a payment of 1.5 million Swiss francs (now around Eur1.25 million) in 1997. The dossier added that payments “attributed” to the two influential Brazilian sports officials came to almost 22 million Swiss francs (Eur18.32 million) between 1992 and 2000. “Havelange is a historical icon in Brazilian sport,” said Gryner. Regarding the ISL scandal, the Rio 2016 chief added: “He already paid, he has been punished. We in Rio 2016, I, have a lot of pride to be associated with Joao Havelange.”
Rio 2016 pledges to address empty seats issue