New Delhi, Oct 5 : With spectators keeping away, the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee is now toying with the idea of filling the venues with school children and people lower strata of society besides setting up ticket boxes outside venues.
At the maiden press conference after the Games kicked off Sunday, it was Commonwealth Games Federation chief Mike Fennell who first raised the issue of spectator's interest saying a number of venues did not have a lot of spectators and that they like to see that the seats were filled.
On his part, OC Chairman Suresh Kalmadi said that the organisers were contemplating providing free tickets to school children and people from the lower strata of the society and that they have set up ticket boxes outside venues.
Empty stands or sparse crowd had greeted the athletes in almost all the competition venues on the first day yesterday, leaving the organisers a trifle embarrassed. There were complaints yesterday that many people who wanted to watch competitions were turned away from the stadium as they could not buy a ticket.
"We are working on that (providing free tickets). Steps are being taken in this direction. We are also planning to get in people from the lower strata of the society," Kalmadi said. Fennell and Kalmadi faced a volley of questions on ticketing, which included whether higher prices resulted in interest dropping as well as top athletes pulling out from the event.
Putting the ball in OC's court to draw crowd into the stadium, Fennell said, "we have not done the complete audit of all the venues. The OC is conscious of the situation. It is their concern how these venues are filled. We like to see spectator seats are filled." Kalmadi had a curious explanation when asked about the absence of ticket counters outside stadium and the OC's decision to set up such facilities from today.
"After the opening ceremony, organisers went back late. There were some problems. Some stalls were not put up. Today situation has been sorted out. Lack of preparation not a problem at all. You will find the crowds from tomorrow," he said. OC Secretary General Lalit Bhanot said 40 ticket counters have been opened across the city. "Around 50 per cent of the tickets have been sold," he said.
At the press conference, Kalmadi said six lakh tickets were sold so far. "It will pick up more. There will be no issues," he said.
"At some venues , the audience number was good. Swimming attracted a lot of crowd. Now we are fully ready. as of today, things are alright. We have set up ticket box offices in all the stadia," Kalmadi said adding "there were big queues yesterday, even upto a mile."
Fennell said he was "very impressed" with Delhiites. "The reception athletes got was tremendous. It warmed the hearts of all the competing athletes," he said while Kalmadi said he was "pretty happy" that the Pakistan contingent got a rousing reception. PTI