Rio Olympics 2016: 1 day to go

Schoolkids fill seats at world-class events

RIO DE JANEIRO • The organisers of the Rio Olympics will bus in schoolchildren to fill empty seats in the venues, with about 1.5 million tickets for events at the Games still unsold.

Tickets are still available for many sports including athletics, which is usually one of the most in-demand events at Olympics.

Tennis, swimming, triathlon and the finals of beach volleyball, volleyball, football and basketball - the most popular sports in Brazil - are the only sellouts.

There is a looming headache for the organisers, with only 29 per cent of the 2.5 million tickets for the Paralympic Games sold.

Free entrance will be provided for groups of schoolchildren. A second measure - a lesson learnt from London 2012 - will be to shrink the size of the space reserved for the "Olympic family" for low-demand events.

Donovan Ferreti, the director of ticketing, said: "This is the first time the Olympic Games are in South America and there are sports that are not so popular here, such as hockey, rugby and archery, but after the Games we are sure they will be.

"We have nearly met our ticketing budget so we have a scheme already planned called 'Transformer' where kids and schools can take the empty seats in the venues for free.

"Many of these will be from poor areas and in some cases we will provide transport too."

London 2012 organisers came in for criticism after TV pictures showed sparsely populated areas of seating at events such as swimming heats despite huge demand for tickets.

It transpired those areas were reserved for "accredited seating" for Olympic officials, and Rio 2016 has reduced the numbers of those seats for the qualification events.

THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 04, 2016, with the headline 'Schoolkids fill seats at world-class events'. Print Edition | Subscribe