David Cameron met with his “Olympics Cabinet” today to discuss, among other things, what can be done about the spectacle of rows of empty seats at Games venues. Various events, including swimming and even the popular beach volleyball, have not been full, despite huge public demand for tickets.
The problem, Downing street explained today, is not so much the sponsors (as some have suggested), but accredited Games officials, who have a certain allocation for each event, but don’t necessarily turn up.
So what did the prime minister tell the hapless official from the organising committee (Locog) who briefed him about the problem this morning? Not much really, says Number 10 – there’s not much he can do. A spokesperson said:
It is disappointing.
But that was as strong as it got. Asked repeatedly what the PM could do to remedy the situation, and what sanctions he could take against officials who failed to find an answer, the spokesperson said:
Locog is looking into this… This is a matter for Locog… Locog has already started to address this issue.
Does Cameron agree with Labour that tickets should be given to fans and police officers?
He is keen to see the venues filled with supporters… Locog is urgently looking into it.
You might spot a recurring theme here. This, we were told, is a problem for Locog, not the government. Besides, what can ministers do to force Locog’s hand? As one member of the press pack pointed out, it’s not as if they can threaten to disband them – that will happen in a few weeks’ time anyway.