Is it all smoke and mirrors? The IOC is seeking to ensure that there are fewer empty seats at the 2012 London Games.
You could see a large number of empty seats during athletic events in Beijing. Organizers even resulted to having volunteers occupy the seats. The IOC is not sure why or how this occurred and are investigating the matter.
We’ll wait on that results of that investigation. In the mean time, what happened? Exuberant hotel prices and bad publicity dampened tourism-that is what happened.
Standard hotel prices in Beijing were going for $700 a night, to then learn just weeks before the games that a high demand did not materialize at the Beijing Games. And at the last minute hotels dropped prices but well beyond the realistic possibility of fans booking an international trip at the last moment.
So what about the fans?
Sure the Olympics have not been cheap in decades but during an economic crisis that officially started in December 2007 - those prices are hubris - smacking of being out of touch with current circumstances.
The lack of foot traffic at their Olympic exhibit was one major reason cited by Johnson & Johnson as a reason for dropping as a major corporate sponsor.
To be fair, the hotel prices have surged in Olympic host cities and prices are set by the independent owners and operators of the respective hotels. However, the slow economic down and the lackluster performance is the opportunity for the IOC to reign in hotel operators of host cities during the bidding process.
Massively inflated prices and lower than expected turn out ultimately diminishes the appeal Games and organizers had better get them under control if they want to save their golden goose.
Jay Hicks for Prerace Jitters.