Asian Games: Ticket target within reach

Asian Games: Ticket target within reach

It was a pulsating game of football that saw grit, gumption and six goals, but official spectator numbers for last Wednesday's 3-3 draw between Singapore and Oman in Group C of the Asian Games was a paltry 16.

That left 35,250 seats at the cavernous Hwaseon Stadium either empty, or occupied by volunteers and officials.

Attendance issues continue to plague the Incheon Asiad, with gaping holes of empty seats across various events.

While the Incheon Asian Games Organising Committee (IAGOC) continue their efforts to put bums on seats, they believe that their 35 billion won ($43m) ticket sales target is well within reach.

"We have sold 21.7 billion won worth of tickets and are working hard to meet the 35 billion sales target," said Lee Il Hee, the IAGOC's deputy secretary for planning.

"We have already surpassed the (sales) performance of the (2002) Busan Asiad."

The Busan Games sold 15.1 billion won worth of tickets in 2002, reportedly about half of all tickets available then.

The 2014 Games officially opened on Sept 19 and will end on Oct 4.

Lee is not running from the stark image of empty seats telecast to homes across the continent.

"In every international sports competition, there are unpopular sports, also there are disciplines where (the host country) does not play, and these don't attract many spectators. This is a common problem," he said, at a press conference yesterday.

"The committee is well aware that there are several empty seats, but that does not mean we can just open up those seats (for free)."

Incheon City already has 50,000 citizen supporters and 5,000 youth supporters made up of university students, and Lee revealed that the city has also invited officers and soldiers of the military and "multi-cultural fans" to the Games.

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