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Small crowd at athletics due to lack of awareness, remote location

Europe
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Rio de Janeiro (dpa) - Eyebrows were raised Friday about the sparse crowd at the Olympic stadium for the start of the Rio Games‘ athletics competition but organizers put up a brave face.

Organizing committee spokesman Mario Andrada said that 58 per cent of the tickets were sold for the morning session, but the stadium appeared far more empty when Ethiopia‘s Almaz Ayana set a stunning 10,000-metre world record.

The small crowd was in stark contrast to London 2012 where every athletics session had been packed to the rafters. But it was in line with other Rio venues which have rarely seen a full house.

Andrada said that other sessions including Sunday‘s with the 100-metre final with Usain Bolt as the expected top arraction are sold out, which could help raise awareness in the future.

"We‘re not disappointed because we understand that without local heroes and local athletes, some of the local public takes longer to fall in love with track and field," Andrada said.

"One of the legacies for these Games will be to show Brazilians how spectacular it can be to follow any sport. We understand that the fact that they will be able to see Mr Bolt and several other iconic athletes will help."

Andrada said that the location of the stadium far away from other venues may also play a role because people prefer to come to the Olympic Park with its multiple venues and larger number of attractions. At past Games the athletics stadium was always within the Olympic Park.

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