- 10 Aug 08, 11:55 AM
If this Games was taking place pretty much anywhere else in the world, it would be a tout's dream.
Officially, it's a sell-out, all 6.8m tickets have gone, every session sold. Tourists here are desperate to get in, but tickets are extremely difficult to come by.
Touting's illegal in China, 29 men were picked up in a recent police sweep of those chancing their arm on Beijing's streets.
And yet, our commentators at the venues are all reporting the same thing, and the TV pictures are bearing this out, there are empty seats everywhere.
John Coates, International Olympic Committee member and the head of the Australian Olympic Committee, is surprised.
He says it's disappointing for the athletes, and that every Olympic event deserves a full house.
The Sydney venues were, he says, filled to 94% of capacity.
At the opening beach volleyball matches, crowds were particularly sparse, an impression made worse by the fact that the TV pictures highlighted vacant expensive seats closest to the action.
I raised this at the daily briefing with BOCOG, and the organisers were forthright.
They concede it's a problem, and are struggling for an answer.
Wang Wei, the deputy head of BOCOG, said it's a complicated picture, and he called on ticket holders to basically get their bums on the seats. So what's going on?
Well, chief suspects are the sponsors. They get piles of tickets in recognition of their funding commitments, and it seems they're finding it a bit hard to convince people to get out to the qualifying stages of some events.
Also, blame officials with tickets, be they from the media, the teams, or the NOCs who are also not taking their places.
Some are only showing up for part of the time, perhaps to see one match in a double-header.
Whatever the reason, the millions of people who applied for tickets but were unlucky must be hugely frustrated to see unfilled places simply because it seems others can't be bothered.
They're denying real fans the chance to feel a part, however small, of the greatest show on earth.
Surely, some system could be created to get those unwanted tickets into the hands of people who're happy to pay for them, and want to use them.
BOCOG should do something now - and London ought to take note.
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