Sochi’s Empty Seats Difficult To IgnoreBy: Val Powell - February 12, 2014
There’s always a buzz about the lack of spectators that show up during the Olympics. The same goes with this year’s Sochi Winter Olympics, which has been said to cost around $51 billion and took 7 years to prepare for. The question that Olympic officials are asking is why are people not attending. This has been evident during one of the most awaited events, men’s downhill, where there were more than a thousand empty seats in a venue that filled 7,500.
Although some of the seats in events such as figure skating are fully packed, less popular sports events were just half-full. According to travel experts, this year’s Winter Olympics might have the lowest number of American attendees they have seen in decades.
Robert Tuchman, who operates a travel firm in New York, says that there are a lot of reasons why Americans didn’t show up in Sochi. The location, lack of accommodations, and other additional expenses when traveling are all major factors that may have affected their choice to stay home and watch the 2014 Winter Olympic Games from the television instead of traveling all the way to Sochi. Another main reason for the lack of spectators is the fear of security with all the political issues in the city.
One of the members of the policy-making executive board, Anita DeFranz, also says that Russians are more reserved. They need time to get used to the celebration to get more excited, since it is the first time for most of them to see these sports events.
Sochi organizers say the lack of spectators will be addressed by filling the empty seats with volunteers. An IOC member also suggested filling the empty seats with unarmed soldiers and school children. This was also the solution at the 2012 Summer Games in London where they filled up empty seats by inviting troops and volunteers.
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