Empty seats at Rio Olympics (Getty Images)
Cape Town - The Olympics only comes around every four years and you might expect events to be well-attended as a result, but Rio 2016 organisers have had to give away 240 000 tickets to underprivileged schoolchildren in order to combat the problem of low attendances at the opening football matches.
With less popular events like golf, rugby sevens and hockey unlikely to attract many spectators, Olympic organisers have decided to hand out tickets in order to boost attendance - despite initially saying they wouldn't do so.
Rio 2016 director of communications, Mario Andrada, confirmed that the tickets would be going to schoolchildren as they have recently taken part in education programmes that relates to the Olympics.
“There are several sports that are unknown to the youth, like golf and rugby. We teach these kids Olympic values, we teach them how to play these sports,” Andrada told reporters.
“The social programme will kick in in the sports we don’t know. In field hockey for example, the kids learn how to play and had a lot of fun. But they never saw a real field hockey game.”
Andrada claimed that 240 000 tickets were able to be given away as they have achieved their sales target of R$1 billion (Brazilian reais) or £232 million.
Andrada added that approximately 80 percent of the 7.5 million tickets on offer have been sold, including those that are the most expensive.
"There will be 240 000 kids across different projects in different areas. We reached 100% of the projected revenue," he said. "We sold the most expensive tickets, so we can afford to give some away."
Ticketing may be one issue under control, but Andrada conceded that all may not run smoothly as the organisers have had to cut back on everything from equipment to staff in order to avoid making a financial loss.
"When you decide to run an event of this magnitude with a balanced budget, no public money and without leaving bills for society to pay – it shakes," Andrada said.
"Fasten your seatbelt because it’s going to be a bumpy road. We won’t sacrifice field of play or the health of the athletes, but we can sacrifice everything else.
"From printers to no TVs in rooms, we also reduced the number of volunteers. Everything is ready but everything can be improved. It will look better with the look and feel.
"We were not happy we had to fix the village, we apologised to the athletes and the National Olympic Committees for not being totally ready there.
"We can safely say that every single event of this magnitude has its share of problems. We are preparing these Games in specific economic and political circumstances in Brazil."