30 Jul 2012

Seating fiasco - troops fill the gaps at Olympics

1:56 pm on 30 July 2012

London Olympics organisers have drafted in the military to fill thousands of empty seats in a bid to head off a growing backlash over Games ticketing arrangements.

Some early events at the Games saw hundreds of seats at sold-out events left empty, the ABC reports.

Now troops are being called in to fill the rows of vacant spots seen on television "shots" of spectators at swimming heats, volleyball, gymnastics, volleyball and dressage events in the London Games.

"No shows" by Olympic officials, athletes and even members of the media have been variously blamed, and the London 2012 organising committee (Locog) has promised an urgent investigation, the BBC reports.

Most of the empty seats were not those sold to members of the public, but had been reserved for members of the "Olympic family."

Organising committee boss Lord Sebastian Coe is playing down the furore, saying the seats had been allocated to accredited officials from Olympic organisations and sporting federations.

But now soldiers - who had been brought in to cover shortfalls left by the failure of the Games private security contractors - have been brought in to plug the gaping holes in the stands.

Troops have spent their spent their rest breaks watching events, while teachers and students have also been given tickets.

Earlier this month, the government was forced to deploy an extra 3500 troops after the private contractor G4S failed to meet its commitment to supply enough security guards.