Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Offcial: Olympic seat occupation on rise as Games roll on

Seat occupancy at the Beijing Olympics is gradually on rise as the Games go on, an official with the Olympic organizers said on Tuesday.

"In the early stages, several events have seen a fairly low seat occupation because of their unfavorable timing - either too early or too late," Yao Hui, a vice director in charge of venue management with the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games told a press conference Tuesday noon.

Yao cited several other factors for the empty seats - no-shows among ticket-holding Olympic sponsors and officials, and fans not staying for the entire program when events last a full day.

"However, as many of the sports events enter their finales, seat occupation is gradually on the rise," he said, adding that "quite a number of sport events are performed in almost full venues".

Preliminary track and field events held at the Bird's Nest over the past few days have seen a 90 percent seat occupation in the morning. There is a full audience at night in the 91,000-capacity stadium, according to Yao.

At least 24 out of 31 venues in Beijing are seeing an average seat occupation rate above 80 percent, he said.

More than 1.3 million people have visited the Olympic Green, the centerpiece zone of the Games where most of the main venues are.

Yao said the Olympic venues are all in smooth operation, with no report of equipment and Olympic venue malfunction disturbing the games so far.

He also spoke highly of Chinese audience present at the Olympic venues for their "enthusiasm and civilized behavior".

"Athletes such as Michael Phelps could not have performed so well without the audience's enthusiasm. I want to say thanks to all the audience from China and around the world," he said, "All of you deserve a gold medal."

With four days left of the Olympics, more than 40 countries have won a total of 205 gold medals by Tuesday noon, as China leads the medal list with 43 golds.

More than 30 world records and 50 Olympic records have been broken during the Games.


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