The Olympics are off to a great start. There's already been high profile match-ups, down-to-the-wire competition, and athletes taking things too personally. The only problem is the huge amount of empty seats left by the organizers and sponsors in the stadiums. They're kind of a bummer.
The problem was on display on Saturday most notably during the big swimming match between Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps. There were hundreds of empty seats left behind. The empty seats are often in some of the best parts of the stadiums. They're for corporate sponsors, so they have the best eye-lines possible, but that also means they're the seats that show up on TV. If those are empty, then London looks terrible.
At first, the organizers were in denial about the problem. The chairman of the London Olympics, Sebastien Coe, blew off the problem and said they were "stuffed to the gunnels" in every stadium, except when he said that he was surrounded by empty seats disproving his point.
"It is a shame this happened but we are going to do everything we can to make sure we fill up those stadia," said Jeremy Hunt, the British Culture Secretary in charge of the games.
Their solution? To fill the stadium up with members of the military, and local teachers and students. Some military members had their scheduled vacations cancelled so they could be assigned to go and watch the Olympics. Organizers also considered a 30-minute rule, where seats not filled in the first 30 minutes of an event starting would be released to the public, but that idea was eventually dismissed.
Some press who tried to get crafty and take up some of the empty seats at Sunday's U.S.A.-France basketball game were foiled. Reuter's Justin Palmer tweeted about journalists getting kicked out of corporate seats after the proper owners actually decided to show up. They're lucky the 30-minute rule was never adopted.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.