Paralympic organisers battle empty seats

Team SA enters the stadium, during the opening ceremony of the Paralympics. Picture: Wessel Oosthuizen/SA Sports Picture Agency.

LONDON – As China tops the medal table at the 2012 London Paralympics, Team South Africa celebrated early success at the Aquatics Centre.

Golden girl Natalie du Toit bagged her first gold medal in the women’s 100 metres butterfly S9 final.

But despite a smooth transition from the able-bodied Olympics into this event, it seems organisers have not yet conquered the challenge of empty seats.

Spectators were prevented from filling hundreds of empty seats at the early events as further ticketing issues dominated the headlines.

At the power lifting event at the ExCeL Centre, more than 400 seats were left empty on the opening day of the Paralympics.

Fans on site with day tickets to the park were not allowed inside because officials were told the venue was full.

Elsewhere, there were hundreds of empty seats at the basketball arena.

It meant that some would have watched the events on giant screens right outside the venues and could see the vacant seats inside.

Just weeks after half empty venues shadowed the start of the Olympic Games, angry sport fans have accused organised of failing to learn from their mistakes.

Organisers say they are looking into the complaints.