Reuters

Rio 2016 organisers giving away 240,000 tickets to fill empty venues

Rio 2016 organisers giving away 240,000 tickets to fill empty venues

04/08/2016 at 11:04Updated 04/08/2016 at 11:25

Almost a quarter of a million tickets will be given away for unpopular sports at the Olympics to avoid events going ahead in empty venues.

Organisers have always claimed that they would not give freebies away for the sake of filling seats, but a day before the opening ceremony they have backtracked on that claim.

The lucky beneficiaries will be the schoolchildren of Rio - though how lucky they will consider themselves when they discover they'll be watching golf, rugby sevens or hockey remains to be seen.

"There will be 240,000 kids across different projects in different areas. We reached 100% of the projected revenue," said Andrada.

"We sold the most expensive tickets, so we can afford to give some away....

"There are several sports that are unknown to the youth, like golf and rugby. We teach these kids Olympic values, we teach them how to play these sports.

"The social programme will kick in in the sports we don’t know. In field hockey for example, the kids learn how to play and had a lot of fun. But they never saw a real field hockey game.”

The initiative has already come too late for some events, however: the stands were less than a quarter full in the opening action of the Games on Wednesday, the women's football match between Sweden and South Africa, as 13,439 turned up at the 60,000-seater Olympic Stadium.

Following that slightly embarrassing scene, an IOC spokesman said: "Rio 2016 has a full venues policy and we will have to wait to see how they achieve that."

Empty seats won't be the only potential embarrassment of the Games, however: Andrada added that athletes and fans should get ready for a rough and ready Olympics, thanks to the enforcement of the policy to run the Games without making a financial loss.

"When you decide to run an event of this magnitude with a balanced budget, no public money and without leaving bills for society to pay – it shakes," Andrada added.

"Fasten your seatbelt because it’s going to be a bumpy road. We won’t sacrifice field of play or the health of the athletes, but we can sacrifice everything else.

"From printers to no TVs in rooms, we also reduced the number of volunteers...

"Everything is ready but everything can be improved. It will look better with the look and feel.

"We were not happy we had to fix the village, we apologised to the athletes and the National Olympic Committees for not being totally ready there.

"We can safely say that every single event of this magnitude has its share of problems. We are preparing these Games in specific economic and political circumstances in Brazil."

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