Of all the animals of prey, man is the only sociable one.
Every one of us preys upon his neighbour, and yet we herd together.
The Beggar's Opera: John Gay

Sunday, 29 July 2012

There is no spoon...

It seems we can't even trust the evidence of our own eyes, at least if Lord Coe's latest pronouncement is to be believed:
“Let’s put this in perspective, those venues are stuffed to the gunnels and the public are in there." 
That's right, Seb, they're the ones crammed up near the rafters, behind the massed banks of empty seats in prime position. As the Telegraph has it, the 'stadiums' (or stadia, depending on your level of pedantry) may well be packed solid in the vicinity of the 'gunnels' (or gunwales, ditto) but things are looking decidedly less crowded below the plimsoll line.

It seems the empty seats are, by and large, the ones reserved for the 'Olympic Family', including IOC officials; perhaps yesterday's no-shows were suffering the after-effects of the lavish hospitality that was doubtless on offer after the Opening Ceremony.

It's a shame that, once it was clear the places would not be occupied for the main events, spectators with children were not quietly permitted to move forward - not only would it have looked better on camera, it would have shown a generosity and consideration the Games organisers have so far appeared to lack, as well as being in keeping with the stated 'legacy' ethos.

I can view this with relative indifference, not having applied for tickets, but I can imagine it must be intensely galling for anyone who tried to purchase tickets for these events and failed - especially since anyone who applies for tickets for the early heats of a particular event may well have good reason for wanting them.

Although it makes no difference to the sporting outcome, there is something deeply displeasing about those empty chairs, testifying as they do to the relative values that see the paying public relegated to a literal back seat while the Olympic Family manifest their indifference by leaving their prime places unfilled.

Unless, of course, the gaps were a figment of our collective imagination, as Lord Coe seems to imply.

Update: some joined-up thinking:
Lord Coe said fans with tickets could have them upgraded so they can sit in more expensive areas reserved for VIP members of the 'Olympic family' (though, interestingly, it doesn't say whether this would be free of charge)
and a telling insight into Lord Coe's relationship with his IOC overlords:
He said: 'It's not easy to ask people (in the accredited Olympic family) at the beginning of the Games exactly how, where and when they're going to be in those seats.


  1. It's a bit fishy if all those empty seats are supposed to represent sold tickets.

  2. Lord Seb Coe, England's version of the Iraqi Information Minister, folks! Give him a big hand...

  3. AKH, as far as I gather - BBC report here - the sponsors are dodging the issue by insisting they have passed on their allocated tickets, implying that if the recipients don't turn up, it's nothing to do with them.

    'Eight per cent of tickets have been made available to sponsors and 75% per cent to the public. Another 12% go to National Olympic Committees and 5% to the Olympic family - people like IOC officials and the media.'

    Trouble is, at least if footage of the aquatic centre and Greenwich Arena is anything to go by, LOCOG made sure that the 25% allocated to sponsors and the Olympic Family were the best seats in the house - and thus highly conspicuous if unoccupied.