Early Rio events see empty stands as backdrops

Rio unsold: More than a million tickets remain

As the whole world tunes in on television to watch the Olympic Games in Rio, many fans are noticing a lack of fans who are actually at the games — and they are right.

More than a million tickets remain unsold, according to the Rio 2016 organizing committee. Overall, they say they have sold just over 5 million tickets in total or 84 percent of the total number of tickets available as of Monday.

Marco Bueno (L) of Mexico vies for the ball with Setareki Hughes (R) of Fiji during the 2016 Rio Olympic Games men's second round Group C football match Fiji vs. Mexico, at the Arena Fonte Nova stadium in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil, on August 7, 2016.
Nelson Almeida | AFP | Getty Images

Despite the empty stands, the organizing committee said in a statement they have exceeded their revenue target. "We are now sitting at around 102 percent of this number." That target was $330 million.

Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt is doing his part to increase ticket sales. "I'm here in Rio, ready to make history, so make sure you buy your tickets and come out and watch — it's going to be great," Bolt posted in a video on Twitter.

Spectators line up to purchase beach volleyball tickets at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Justin Solomon | CNBC

So, why the empty stands?

Olympic officials have admitted that long, airport-style security lines have resulted in many empty seats as fans wait in endless lines. "We do have reports today the problem is fixed and there is little waste of time to get into venues," Rio 2016 spokesman Mario Andrada said on Sunday.

Another area of blame: locals. Officials say that Brazilians are traditionally last-minute buyers and many have simply not shown up as traffic and the events being spread out has made getting to events more difficult.

The organizing committee said it has sold just over 25 percent of their tickets to those living outside of Brazil — with the U.S. buying the most after Brazil.

Adrian Gavira Collado (ESP) of Spain and Jefferson (QAT) of Qatar compete.
Ruben Sprich | Reuters

In an effort to sell more tickets, Rio 2016 said it has continued to promote ticket opportunities in less popular sports through a TV and digital-media campaign.

"Even when we had some empty seats in some stadiums, we never had a low atmosphere, so I believe that the athletes obviously enjoy seeing the stadium full, but they love even better to see an atmosphere, even those who are not supported by the crowd, to challenge and create their own game," spokesman Andrada said on Sunday.

Disclosure: CNBC parent NBCUniversal owns NBC Sports and NBC Olympics. NBC Olympics is the U.S. broadcast rights holder to all Summer and Winter Games through the year 2032.

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