Thoughts on Rio and the Empty Seats

16/08/2016 16:30 | Updated 16 August 2016

The Olympics hold a certain fondness for me as a writer. The first sports blogs I ever did, on a pokey Wordpress blog of my own design, were about the build up to London 2012 and the events therein.

I still have the pokey blog, but four years on I am not quite able to enjoy the Olympics on the same level. That level being to lie on my parents' sofa for 13 hours watching five events simultaneously and drawing my dad's ire when the family's internet allowance for the month ran out after 10 days, because I'd had BBC Sport on constantly.

For Rio 2016, numerous obstacles have stopped me watching the all-important archery and handball preliminaries, irritating stuff like a job, a girlfriend, the inconvenience of the climactic events being held at 3am. Life eh?

But the Olympic magic always holds, at least for an armchair fan whose responsibility and engagement ends at deciding how long he can watch the beach volleyball alone before he starts feeling a bit weird.

For those in Rio, the magic perhaps is being less keenly felt. Although the violent protests seen during the 2014 World Cup have not been so obvious - at least in the news coverage - a lack of appreciation of a major sporting event being put on in a country with a credit rating one notch above junk has been seen in the empty seats.

The first day of the athletics saw the Olympic stadium maybe 30 per cent full, at the most generous estimate? The Saturday evening, featuring major finals including the women's 100m, scraped to half full - the main stand was packed, but whenever the camera glimpsed the upper echelons at the opposite side or at either end, the rows of pale blue were painfully obvious.

At the less glamorous events - I don't think it would be too harsh to call the likes of the shooting as such - the stadia have been occupied solely by coaches, families, and a few dedicated hangers on from the competing nation. Neutral, home nation interest has been lacking.

I have seen this described as embarrassing in some quarters, but who is it embarrassing for? The fans? If you are more concerned with contagious disease and financial worries, I think you can be forgiven.

Those who bid for the games? Nothing wrong with ambition and wanting to trail blaze, and the stadia and facilities all seem fine. The green pool? Patriotic.

In the end it is embarrassing for the IOC. This is their road show, and they have pitched up in the wrong part of town at the wrong time. It will be interesting what influence this has on where the games go next. 2024 could be hosted by one of four cities - the safe-enough bets of Paris, Rome or Los Angeles, or the outside shot of Budapest.

Given the IOC's propensity for legacy, the Hungarian capital may formerly have been a solid bet. Now though, you should put your cash on Paris.