A year ago, when tickets first went on sale, more than half of those who applied were unsuccessful.
So if you were one of roughly a million fans who couldn't get hold of tickets, you might have been forgiven a raised eyebrow when you noticed that Wimbledon was far from full on the opening couple of days. You might start asking questions when you spotted the empty seats at the gymnastics. And by the time you'd seen the pattern repeat itself at several more venues, including sessions of the swimming, well, you'd be entitled to be furious.
After an opening ceremony which had got the Olympics off to a flying start, the empty seats were an administrative cock-up which has sobered up any LOCOG members thinking the pressure was now finally off.
A swift statement was issued on day one, promising an immediate investigation.
LOCOG chairman Lord Coe sprung into action on day two, as the problems persisted, suggesting that most venues "were stuffed to the gunnels" with fans, before contesting that the problem lay primarily with the areas marked off for accredited visitors, be it media or the International Olympic Committee family.
"I don't think you will be seeing this as an issue, long-term through the Games," Coe added in the press conference.
Perhaps Lord Coe is wearying of having to defend a Games which have for the most part been organised excellently, but this is no unfortunate flag mix-up. It threatens to undermine the idea that this is an event for the public.
Filling the seats with members of the army on their breaks from doing what G4S staff should have been doing (that's another story), or offering last-minute tickets to schoolchildren, teachers or even (heaven forfend) the general public are nice ideas, but it's not the answer. It's a patch-up job. A major sporting event's equivalent of noticing a hole in the wall and 'solving' it by putting a plant in front of it.
Four years ago in Beijing, precisely the same problem arose, attracting a certain level of sneering and bemusement on these shores.
The Chinese solution was to bus fans in, to fill the stadiums and improve the mood within the stadium.
"If they find that there are not enough people, or if they find that there are too many empty seats, they organise some cheerleaders," said Wang Wei of the Beijing Organising Committee at the time.
"These cheer for both sides to 'create a good atmosphere'".
It should be a source of embarrassment to London and the IOC, if indeed it is primarily their allocated tickets which have gone unclaimed, that nothing has been learnt from the problems in Beijing.
Empty seats have a doubly-devastating effect at home and on television. Every person missing from the stadium is a voice less that could scream on an athlete, or heighten the tension in a competition. And for those watching at home, that effect is no less important. The Olympics are routinely described as 'the greatest show on earth' — a grandiose billing which is hard to sustain if the venues are not, to return to Lord Coe's quote, "stuffed to the gunnels."
Great Britain clearly wants to embrace these Games. Just look at the road races, where an estimated million fans took to the streets to watch Mark Cavendish and the British cycling team's tilt for a medal, and were out in force again in the rain to watch Lizzie Armitstead win a silver medal.
LOCOG must act fast and decisively, because this is not merely an unwelcome talking point, but a story which threatens to take the gloss off hosting the Olympic Games.
China (and Greece before it in 2004) did recover from stories of poor attendances and empty seats.
But to an extent, it does not matter whether the situation is patched up over the coming days, or even whether it is fixed completely for the remainder of the Games.
Just as Olympians don't get second chances (alright, repechage excepted) when it comes to their hopes of winning medals, there is no way of salvaging the thousands — for it is already that many — of empty seats which could have been filled in the opening couple of days by fans.
Seats unclaimed at the eventing
London Spy is the place to keep you informed on all the news in and around the 2012 Olympics. From torch tours to ticket touts, from Greco Roman wrestling to Stratford International maintenance, from Lord Coe to Wenlock and Mandeville, we will have all the slightly left field stories covered.
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