Sports fans criticize Games committee over half-full stands

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Sports fans criticize Games committee over half-full stands

INCHEON - Asian Games baseball is popular among Korean fans who want to see their nation become the back-to-back champion and watch star Korea Baseball Organization players unite as one team fighting toward a golden victory on home soil.

As evidence of the popularity, tickets to Korea’s Group B games against Thailand, Taiwan and Hong Kong and for the seminal final and final games, in which teams have yet to be decided, were sold out before the Games even started.

Many fans who couldn’t buy tickets were left to watch Korea’s first game against Thailand on television on Monday, but they quickly noticed that there was an abundance of empty seats in the stands. Most of the area behind first base was full, but about one-third of the bleachers and seats behind third base were empty.

Baseball fans have heavily criticized the organizing committee for the way it sold tickets. The committee has already come under fire for its poor management of the Games, including distributing lunch boxes contaminated with salmonella to fencing and shooting athletes on Sunday.

Before the Games started, the Incheon municipal government asked conglomerates to purchase tickets and give them to their employees because it was worried there would be empty seats at many events. But those ticket holders don’t seem to be coming to the matches.

At Korea’s first volleyball preliminary matches on Sunday, which the organizing committee said were sold out, only half of the seats in Songlim Gymnasium were filled. The organizing committee said a total of 26,500 people have attended the Games, but it is obvious that the number is inaccurate because of how the committee has managed ticket sales. Korean sports fans have questioned why conglomerates were asked to buy tickets for sports such as baseball and football, which are the most popular in the Asian Games.

The ticket mishaps have also extended to swimming, for which seats were also in high demand. One ticket-holding reporter from China said he was thrown out.

“I purchased a ticket from the organizing committee, but I was later kicked out from the facility because one of the officials there said the ticket I have is an ‘unauthorized one,’” he said.

“There was no clear explanation and the man just yelled at me. I have reported on so many international sporting events in my career, but this is the worst ever.”



BY YOO BYUNG-MIN AND KWON SANG-SOO [sakwon80@joongang.co.kr]
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