• World Athletics Championships

Lack of crowds mar World Championships

ESPN staff
August 13, 2013
A lone spectator takes a seat against a backdrop of reports of poor ticket sales in Moscow © AP

Concerns are growing over poor attendances at the World Championships with Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium at times barely a third full for athletics' major meeting outside the Olympics.

The opening ceremony took place against a backdrop of empty seats and even the appearance of Usain Bolt in the 100m on Sunday only marginally boosted attendances in the 35,000-capacity venue.

"It's dead, there's no atmosphere," the Dominican Republic's double Olympic 400m hurdles champion Felix Sanchez told Reuters. "It's like night and day compared to London last year."

There had been concerns over ticket sales in the build-up with the International Association of Athletics Federation criticising organisers over what it said was poor promotion of the event.

Around 240,000 tickets were given away shortly before the start and prices were slashed to around £2 but even this has failed to paper over the lack of fans.

Sergei Bubka, the pole vault world record holder and IAAF vice president, tried to put a positive gloss on the situation claiming that between 80% and 85% of tickets had been sold but those figures seem way out on the evidence of the turnout so far.

"Maybe some people bought tickets and didn't attend," Bubka said. "I hope we will settle this issue, because for athletes the crowd is the most important."

Eurosport reported that "athletes' voices could be heard echoing around the cavernous stadium with only a few hundred spectators in attendance" on Monday.

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