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Volunteers drafted in to fill empty stadiums

Published on 12/08/2008

12 August 2008

BEIJING – Officials have drafted in volunteers to fill empty seats and cheer the athletes during Olympic competitions, the head of the organizing committee said Tuesday.

"Their job is to cheer for both sides and generate a good mood," said BOCOG general secretary Wang Wei.

But the claqueurs, who are kitted out in yellow shirts, have to leave whenever a ticket holder claims his place.

Wang said he was disappointed that the stadiums were not full, despite the full contingent of tickets being sold.

"Many people do not bother to turn up for the preliminary events, but that’s not surprising," said Wang.

The claqueurs were visibly in evidence during the women’s road race in cycling when columns of identically clad spectators cheered the riders.

The official said the organizers would also take action against touts who have suddenly made an appearance offering tickets at vastly inflated prices.

Meanwhile, Beijing’s preoccupation with security was spoiling the Games’ atmosphere, Australian Olympic Committee president John Coates said.

There was a noticeable lack of atmosphere around Olympic venues, he told reporters.

"I think you have got to put a lot of that down to the preoccupation with security," he said.

[dpa / Expatica]

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