KAZAN, July 10 (R-Sport) – Russian officials at the World University Games in Kazan on Wednesday explained the empty stands at many of the competition venues by the fact that people who had bought tickets simply had not bothered to turn up.
The organizers claimed that more than 85 percent of all tickets on offer had been sold, but television pictures told a different story as many athletes competed against a backdrop of empty seats, though poor weather had clearly played its part.
“In the first days, we saw free seats at the stands, while other people couldn’t get inside the venues,” said Igor Sivov, the organizing committee’s deputy general manager.
“We found out that a lot of people purchased big packs of tickets before the opening ceremony and then didn’t show up.”
Severe wind and rain saw Tuesday's athletics program at the Central Stadium postponed for half an hour as competitors ran for cover.
But indoor events such as the gymnastics saw healthy crowds at the 3,200-capacity Kazan Gymnastics Center.
Tatarstan official Airat Khairullin, who is responsible for the ticket program, added some people purchased tickets just to get inside the Universiade Park and soak up the atmosphere without attending the competition.
Organizers are attempting to rectify the issue by reprinting tickets for under-attended events with the help of officials who monitor crowd levels in real time.
Russia has spent around $4.5 billion on preparations for the games, the president of the International University Sports Federation Claude-Louis Gallien said last week, in the first overall cost estimate for the event.