Page last updated at 10:49 GMT, Monday, 11 August 2008 11:49 UK

UK aims to fill all seats in 2012

Empty seats at the women's basketball event in Beijing
There were empty seats at some of the early events

Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell has said Britain will work to keep empty seats at London's 2012 Games to a minimum.

There were rows of empty seats at some early events in Beijing, despite the Games being officially sold out.

Ms Jowell said she was talking to Beijing's organising committee about the issue adding: "Clearly our aim is to make sure seats are filled."

She added the Bird's Nest may be the last iconic Olympics stadium - London's will be scaled down after 2012.

Officially, 6.8 million tickets have been sold for the Beijing Games.

But Ms Jowell, who is in the Chinese capital to observe the games, said it was not unusual to have some empty seats at the early stages of the Olympics.

And she said there were "lots of lessons to learn" for the planning of the London Games.

Ticket rules

She said there would be day tickets to the Olympic Park at the 2012 Games so people could watch the big screens and be part of the atmosphere, even if they could not get tickets for a venue.

Our focus is making sure that every single Olympic building has a very clear legacy purpose
Tessa Jowell

The 2012 team was also talking to Bocog - the organising body for the Beijing games, about why there had been empty seats at some early events.

"Clearly our aim is to make sure seats are filled with schoolchildren if not by people who have paid the full price, but there are rules that the International Olympic Committee set about ticket pricing," Ms Jowell told BBC News.

"We have got to look at how we apply those rules in practice to minimise the serried rows of empty seats."

Heavy security

Asked how London could compete with the Beijing Games - where total spending is estimated at 20bn - Ms Jowell agreed they were on an "extraordinary scale" and said there was lots to learn.

"The Bird's Nest stadium is probably the last iconic Olympics stadium.... why? Because its capacity is a bit over 85,000 - in the UK we have an 85,000 seater stadium - more than - and it's our national stadium, Wembley.

"We don't need another 85,000 seater stadium. You can't, on the one hand, bemoan the fact that we are not going to have an iconic stadium like the Bird's Nest and at the same time go on about white elephants being left behind after the Olympics are over.

"Our focus is making sure that every single Olympic building has a very clear legacy purpose and if there isn't legacy need then we will build temporary venues and take them down at the end."

London's 80,000 seat Olympic stadium is designed to be scaled down to a 25,000 seater stadium after the Games.

Ms Jowell also agreed that security at the Beijing Games was "quite heavy" and said: "Our aim is that security will be proportionate, the games will be safe and secure but people will not feel under surveillance."

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