2012 London Olympics
Empty seats are seen during the women's gymnastics qualifying round in the North Greenwich Arena during the London 2012 Olympic Games Reuters

Olympic organisers have promised an urgent inquiry into the problem of empty seats after more than 12,000 tickets went unused during the second day of the 2012 Games, according to The Daily Telegraph.

Television images showed half-empty stands at events such as gymnastics, tennis and swimming - prompting accusations that Lord Coe, chairman of organising body Locog, has reneged on his promise to allocate unused corporate tickets to the general public.

Locog has said it plans to bus in off-duty members of the armed forces, as well as teachers and students, to fill the unoccupied seats.

Coe said: "I don't think a single person out there would think it's shambolic to get members of the army and people like teachers, through the key seats programme, to go in."

'Every seat must be filled'

A number of influential figures, including culture secretary Jeremy Hunt, have attributed the large number of empty seats to apathy on the part of sponsors - who have received around 8 percent of all tickets allocated by the London 2012 organisers.

However a number of the Games' commercial partners, including P&G, Visa, McDonald's, Thomas Cook and Coca-Cola, have issued statements saying their allotted tickets have been used.

"None of our tickets are unused. A small number of our allocation has been used by ourselves, including as a staff incentive scheme and competitions for customers," said Thomas Cook.

Another sponsor, British Airways, said it has already returned its unallocated seats to Locog in order that the organiser can resell the tickets to the public.

Locog organisers said the seats belonged to representatives of international sports federations and other Olympic officials.

"It doesn't obviously appear to be a sponsorship issue at the moment," said Coe.


In response to the empty seats, former Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell, who ran for Britain in the 1964 Olympics, said "nothing is more depressing" than a half-empty stadium. The head of the British Olympic Association, Lord Moynihan, called for an option to fill the seats if they remain unoccupied even after the first 30 minutes of an event.

"We need every seat filled. We owe it to the team, we owe it to British sports fans," Moynihan said.