Belfast Telegraph

Scramble for World Police and Fire Games tickets - but half of seats are left empty

BY AMANDA FERGUSON

Tickets for the opening ceremony of the 2013 World Police and Fire Games were like gold dust – so why were there so many empty seats?

The open-air arena for Thursday's spectacular event at the King's Hall complex seated 14,000 people but by the time the event ended, well under half the seats were occupied.

The vast majority of the 6,700 competitors were seated in the main parading area, with 2,500 members of the public in tiered seating at the back.

When the event – streamed live on the internet worldwide – opened at 6.30pm with a flag ceremony and performance by the MT4Uth alumni, around 1,000 seats were empty.

The number of athletes and their families had to be estimated by organisers ahead of the ceremony so could account for the shortfall, and the rest of seats were occupied by dignitaries, the media and sponsors.

By the time a firework display heralded the end of the ceremony, and the crowd was being treated to performances by singers Brian Kennedy and Andrea Begley, the venue was emptying out.

Many people with young children had to leave early, others headed for the bar, while some athletes were already back at their hotels preparing for their events the following morning.

A spokeswoman for the ceremony organisers said: "A lot of people were eating, milling around and networking on the site over the course of the evening.

"Some athletes had to leave because they had to get up early.

"It was not a straight-laced, formal event, it was fluid, so people picked a natural time when they wanted to leave."

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