Olympics Officials Struggling to Put Butts in Seats

You would think the Olympics are as hot a ticket as tickets get. Once every four years, people play for national pride on the grandest stage and blah blah blah, and other people want to go see that. Or do they?

Turns out, bureaucrats in Beijing are having a bit of trouble filling seats for their events, and, being that they’re the image-conscious Chinese authority, have resorted to borderline dishonesty to resolve the problem.


At the Capital Gymnasium earlier this week there were three blocks of several hundred yellow-shirted spectators cheering loudly for Venezuela as they took on the USA at volleyball. Yesterday, organisers claimed that the cheerleaders were in fact spectators, but today Wang Wei, vice-president of Bocog, conceded that they had been recruited by venue managers to fill seats.

“We are concerned about the fact we do not have full stadia,” he said. “We think it is due to the weather, the humidity and then the rain, and on the first couple of days there were not many spectators who showed up.”

Venezuelan volleyball has never been so popular.

Unfortunately for the Chinese, it seems an impossible task to try and mask whole swaths of empty seats. Even those they can find to fill in — well, let’s just say it’ll be pretty obvious that Angola’s handball team (does Angola have a handball team?) won’t be attracting the genuine concern of hundreds of Chinese people organically. It’s probably better to just leave the stadia alone. After all, no one expects fullness at every event. We promise, China - we’ll still tolerate love you.