Many of the spectator seats at the Sochi Olympics are empty, despite organizers reporting that 80 percent are sold. To avoid the sparse crowd showing up on camera, volunteers have been invited to fill the seats, Quartz reports
Lack of sales isn’t the problem, Quartz says. Instead, according to Olympic organizers, concerns about safety, problems getting to the games, and even lack of interest has left some events with few spectators.
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In the first two days of the games, about 4,000 didn’t get to their seats.
“If we see there isn’t a turnout and there are seats available, yes, we invite some of the volunteers to join in,” Alexandra Kosterina, who is on a local Olympic committee, said at a news conference, according to Quartz.
It’s not the first time Olympic organizers have turned to creative solutions for filling seats. In London in 2012, soldiers filled many of the seats.
This week, the U.S. women’s hockey team played Finland in an arena that was half full, CBS reported
. Men’s speedskating, which is usually one of the most popular events, only filled 75 percent of the seats.
“It's fears of security and possible terrorism. I know friends who canceled. They were worried,” Jim Mallernee from Vail, Colo., told CBS. “Our daughters said they didn't want us to go.”
Robert Tuchman, who runs a New York travel agency, told CBS there are numerous issues with attendance at the Russian games.
"How far it is to get to Sochi; how hard it is; how expensive it is; the lack of quality hotel accommodations; the difficulty getting visas; all the political issues going on in that city, and you realize why a lot of people aren't traveling," Tuchman said.
The New York Post reported that corporations didn’t send as many people
to the Sochi Olympics as they have to other Olympic games.
“There’s a lot of scaling back of the brand teams and the ones that are going are making a tremendous investment in emergency removal,” a top branding expert, Jarrod Moses, told the Post.
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