The accredited seating responsible for empty chairs in Olympic venues has been managed better than anyone has ever done it in the past and as well as anyone will manage it in the future, Games organisers said today.
Paul Deighton, chief executive of London 2012, insisted his team was doing “a terrific job at maximising the number of bums in seats” despite some remaining empty for Britain’s most successful day in modern Olympics history.
The seats, reserved for tens of thousands of people who are given accreditation - including athletes, international sports federations and national sports bodies, invited guests, the media and workers – are vital, he add.
“We are hosts to the world,” Mr Deighton said.
“I take that very seriously. We need to treat those people absolutely right. I’m not at all embarrassed about that.”
Between 5% and 15% of the seats in each venue are in the accredited sections and are being managed well “given that we are hosting the world and given that these people have really important jobs to do that we have to facilitate”, he added.
Mr Deighton said the empty seats row had “absolutely nothing” to do with sponsors.
“I believe we managed accredited seating better than anyone has ever done it in the past and, I suspect, better or as well as anyone will manage it in the future,” he said.
“Just to give you an example, you’ll see some spare seats scattered around the main stadium. They are for photographers who want to go in and take pictures.
“There’s a whole set just above where the shot put takes place. ”They don’t go and sit in those when the other things are going on, but if you put anybody else in there they get trampled to death when the shot put is on, so we have to manage that carefully.
“There are many, many different constituencies, many of them are working, many of them are our guests and it is absolutely right that we figure that out.”
But he said final improvements were made when the problem first arose.
“What we did in the beginning, as soon as we see the pattern of actual demand emerging, we look at what we’ve got, we looked at the demand and we started to sell those seats which we could see were consistently going to be available,” he said.
“That we have done very effectively and that has been very helpful.
“Second, to the extent it is possible operationally to feed in volunteers or military who have accreditation into the seats that are temporarily empty, we will do that, and you have seen that is happening.
“But the behaviour of many of the accredited guests is, when they have seen their athletes, they go off to the next tournament.”
Mr Deighton added: “You really have to understand the dynamics behind all this. And if you did, you would see that the churn rate we get through accreditation means that filling them any more than we do is actually almost impossible.
“I think we are doing a terrific job at maximising the number of bums in those seats given that we are hosting the world and given that these people have really important jobs to do that we have to facilitate.”