Daegu scrambles to fill Worlds events

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Daegu scrambles to fill Worlds events

Three weeks before the start of the 2011 IAAF World Championships in Daegu, predictions of low attendance at athletic competitions have left the organizing committee scrambling to fill seats and avoid embarrassment.

While 85 percent of tickets have been sold, the committee said 86 percent of them were group purchases by corporations, civic groups and schools, which it fears could decrease turnout as many of the purchased tickets were distributed free or at a discount, providing less incentive to attend events.

The organizing committee also fears even more empty seats when a star athlete like Usain Bolt - the world record holder in 100- and 200-meter sprints - is not in competition.

To attract spectators, Daegu’s government and the organizing committee have begun pulling out all the stops.

The city government has begun sending officials to organizations that purchased tickets in bulk to persuade them to end their workday earlier and run their shuttles - normally for employees to commute home - to the stadium instead.

Daegu Metropolitan City and the organizing committee also said they would offer various discounts across the city in cooperation with local businesses such as restaurants and KTX trains.

Many businesses have signed on with the city’s efforts to bring in spectators. During the World Championships, a round trip ticket on KTX will be offered at a 10 percent discount when passengers present their tickets. About 7,000 restaurants in Daegu will have a 10 percent discount as well when patrons show their tickets.

“Bringing in enough spectators to the host city is the key for the event’s success,” Shin Jeong-seob, the ticket sales manager in the organizing committee said. “The event should be a festival that people from around the world can enjoy, and it is very hard to create such a cheerful mood without local residents’ support. We are even considering filling vacant seats by bringing civil servants in for unpopular events.”

The organizing committee reported last week that 387,709 tickets had been sold as of Aug. 8, of which 333,042 tickets, or 86 percent of tickets sold, were group purchases. The committee said group purchases were defined by buying more than 50 tickets at a time.

The IAAF World Championships Daegu 2011 will be held from Aug. 27 to Sept. 4 in Daegu, North Gyeongsang.

By Hong Gweon-sam, Kwon Sang-soo [sakwon80@joongang.co.kr]
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