London's Olympic organizing committee chairman, Lord Sebastian Coe, admitted to bringing in soldiers, students and teachers of London schools to fill the gaps of empty seats seen throughout various events during the first few days of the Olympics, reported Rob Preece of The Daily Mail, though Coe downplayed the severity of the issue:
"Let's not run away with ourselves here,' he said. 'We're talking about an issue on the first couple of days."
Mark Adams, a spokesman for the International Olympic Committee, said it wasn't a lack of attendance on the part of the general public that's leaving many seats empty, rather it's sports organizations from around the world, the media and "a handful of sponsors" who are failing to show.
The report said that troops were brought in to fill empty press seats to the U.S. men's basketball game vs France on Sunday, and cited a number of other events including men's volleyball where "pockets" of seats for the media were left unused. The Queen's granddaughter made her Olympic debut on Sunday for an equestrian event, but reports were that even this premiere wasn't as big a draw as expected as many seats were seen empty there as well.
According to The Guardian, there were an estimated 500 empty seats in one block alone for the highly anticipated swimming meet on Saturday between Michael Phelps and rival Ryan Lochte.
Those empty seats have many fans feeling frustrated when they're told tickets for certain events are sold out. Matt Casson, 36, of London, attended a swimming event on Sunday morning as a fan and confirmed that there were a number of empty seats:
"It's really disappointing. They should do something like they do at Wimbledon where at a certain time they put them on sale to the general public, just re-sell them.
While Coe hints at the issue going away in the next few days, Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt called the matter "very disappointing" and said that there will be an investigation to prevent it from being an ongoing issue:
"I think it was accredited seats that belonged to sponsors, but if they're not going to turn up, we want those tickets to be available for members of the public, because that creates the best atmosphere. We are looking at this very urgently at the moment."