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Thousands of unused Olympic tickets now up for grabs

Visitors by their tickets for the Olympic Park at the 2012 Summer Olympics

Emilio Morenatti/The Associated Press

Olympic spectators can look forward to a steady stream of unused Olympic tickets coming up for grabs, giving the hard-core fans some hope that they can see events that were sold out many months ago.

The Olympic organizing committee released about 3,000 tickets Sunday night, all of which were bought, and said more would go on sale on a daily basis.

The unused tickets were an embarrassment to the organizers. They had been blocked off for official guests, such as sponsors, international sports federations and VIPs, by the thousands, many of whom didn't bother showing up. The result was uncomfortable (for the Olympic organizers) as endless video clips and photos showed seemingly acres of vacant seats.

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The 3,000 sets unloaded last night delivered tickets to fans of volleyball, gymnastics and swimming, among other sports.

In an effort to please the Olympics-craving masses, Britain's culture secretary, Jeremy Hunt, said he is considering 30-minute rule, which would blow out tickets to the public if the ticket-holders' did not have their bums in the seats within 30 minutes of the start of the event. The idea was first floated by Lord Colin Moynihan, chairman of the British Olympic Association.

Mr. Hunt, however, wasn't sure whether the proposal would fly.

"We're looking at whether we're able to do it," Mr. Hunt said. "But we are hosting this event under contractual arrangement we have with the International Olympic Committee and the sports federations, and we have to respect what we've agreed to, contractually."

Empty Olympic seats are nothing new. In the Beijing games in 2008, the Chinese authorities delivered workers by the hundreds to some events in an apparent effort to pad the sports venues.

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About the Author
European Columnist

Eric Reguly is the European columnist for The Globe and Mail and is based in Rome. Since 2007, when he moved to Europe, he has primarily covered economic and financial stories, ranging from the euro zone crisis and the bank bailouts to the rise and fall of Russia's oligarchs and the merger of Fiat and Chrysler. More

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