2.1 million attend first 3 days of London Olympics

Tuesday, July 31, 2012 | 3:46 PM    

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LONDON, England (AP) — Facing criticism for swaths of empty seats at venues, Olympic organisers said today that 2.1 million people attended events in the first three full days of competition.

They said 86 per cent of ticket-holders showed up Saturday, 92 per cent Sunday and 88 per cent Monday.

The empty seats have been blamed mostly on officials from sports' governing bodies and national Olympic committees that don't use their tickets in prime areas, which are often seen on television and in photos.

Organisers say 856,000 attended events Saturday, including a "conservative" estimate of 500,000 on the men's cycling road race route.

It was 900,000 on Sunday, when eight men's soccer matches were played. An estimated 300,000 lined the women's cycling route. Monday's overall attendance was 370,000.

Organising committee spokeswoman Jackie Brock-Doyle said it won't publish breakdowns of each sport's attendance, which could detail events that struggled to lure ticket-holders.

As for the empty seats, a potential solution was offered yesterday when the head of Britain's Olympic body called on the IOC to take more responsibility.

The International Olympic Committee should invest hundreds of millions of dollars in centralised ticket distribution, British Olympic Association chairman Colin Moynihan said.

"It is so important to the sporting public of the host city, the host country, to get this right that this is now, I hope, recognised by the IOC as something which they should take on," Moynihan said at a news conference.

Moynihan said the proposal had not been given to the IOC, but should be part of a formal debriefing of the London Olympics hosted by 2016 host Rio de Janeiro in November.

The logistics challenges facing London Games organisers, and the "very regrettable" images of under-occupied venues, were an unfair burden, Moynihan said.

Ticket sales are the responsibility of the organising committee, which pledged that 75 per cent would reach British residents.

Reacting to problems during the weekend, organisers now contact sports officials each evening to reclaim prime seats for sale online.

Brock-Doyle said 3,800 tickets, covering 30 sessions across 15 sports, were quickly sold to the British public for today's events. Buyers for events in Olympic Park, North Greenwich Arena and volleyball venue Earls Court will also be allowed to print out their tickets at home.



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