Organizer defends European Games over empty seats

BY foxsports • June 19, 2015

BAKU, Azerbaijan (AP) The chief organizer of the inaugural European Games said Friday he is ''incredibly satisfied'' with the spectator turnout, despite the large number of empty seats at some events.

Many sessions have taken place with banks of empty seats, even at sold-out events.

''I do recognize that this is incredibly frustrating for people who want to buy tickets but when they look at the television they can see some empty seats,'' said Simon Clegg, the chief operating officer for the games.

However, Clegg said organizers can do little about it.

''We cannot sell more tickets than are available at the venue,'' he said. ''A number of people are not staying for the whole duration of the match and there are no facilities that are in place to ensure those tickets can be re-used once those people have left.''

Clegg has previously said there are ''issues'' with sponsors not using the tickets allocated to them.

Clegg also warned there would be large numbers of empty seats at Baku's showpiece 68,000-capacity Olympic Stadium for the athletics competitions Sunday and Monday.

''We are not expecting that facility to be full,'' he said.

Few top-level athletes are taking part in European Games track and field events because the competition doubles as the fourth tier of the European team championship. That means that major European nations such as Britain, France and Russia are not competing while the host team of Azerbaijan faces off against lesser opposition such as Austria, Israel and Luxembourg.

Overall, however, organizers are happy with the turnout as the European Games reach the halfway stage.

''We had over 30,000 spectators at all of the venues yesterday, with an average attendance rate of 74 percent, so I have to say that I am incredibly satisfied with the level of attendance of the games at all of the venues,'' he said.

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