The Empty Seats Fiasco Leaves London 2012 at Risk of Losing Its Legacy

'Inspire a Generation'. Never has a slogan for a sporting event been as apparent as following Friday night's opening ceremony.

'Inspire a Generation'. Never has a slogan for a sporting event been as apparent as following Friday night's opening ceremony.

Four years ago, Beijing had the motto One World, One Dream, while Athens in 2004 said Welcome Home and Sydney told us to Share The Spirit in 2000. The lighting of the cauldron by seven young stars amidst speculation from bookmakers that it would be any one of a number of Olympic legends topped off an evening that left the nation stunned.

Often these slogans are simply another marketing ploy and aren't passed through. London seemed different though. The greatest honour that can be bestowed upon an athlete at their home games, given to a group of seven unheard-of youngsters epitomised the spirit of the 'Inspire a Generation' tagline.

That spirit, multiplied by Danny Boyle's theatrical spectacular should have put the youth at the forefront of our minds, and, in Seb Coe's own words, 'It is the heartbeat, the very DNA of this organisation and a rallying cry for the athletes to come to the UK to perform at their very best and inspire the world.' Everything was set for an Olympic games like no other: without the extravagance of Beijing, but with a unique and heart-warming message.

Instead, we're now left with a global event that, as it stands, risks being remembered by photos of hundreds of empty seats in arenas across London.

Whilst Coe claims that sponsor who fail to fill seats will be 'named and shamed' his statements given on Sunday seemed to indicate a lack of recognition of the issue claiming that the venues were "stuffed to the gunwales", despite evidence to the contrary. A quick search of Twitter for '#emptyseats' brings up a host of images and complaints from across the UK. For those scavenging around for tickets on the very same website under the hashtag of '#2012tweeps', it's a kick in the teeth.

A solution needs to be found. Coe claims that seats are being filled by the military, and that tickets have been given out to local schoolchildren, but even after his words on Sunday, images of empty seats have been circulating from the Aquatics Centre to Horse Guards Parade.

A system needs to be worked out to sell tickets to members of the public at an appropriate time when it becomes apparent that seats are going to be left unused, whether that's through queues outside venues or flash sales on London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games' (LOCOG) much-maligned website each morning, this isn't an issue that can now be left to form as the legacy of an Olympic games that opened so promisingly.

The current situation doesn't help our competitors, eager supporters or the organising committee. Something needs to be done; quickly, so that when the games close on 12th August, London is remembered for its spectacular opening ceremony, broken world records, and the achievements of Team GB, and not for the fact that thousands of us couldn't be there due to an administrative failure.

So, come on LOCOG, Inspire a Generation.


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