IAAF defend low attendances at World Athletics Championship
MANY thoughts spring to mind on seeing the historic Olympic Stadium in Berlin - but the idea that it is too big is not one of them.
EMPTY SEATS: IAAF general secretary has defended the ticketing policy at the World Athletics Championships in Berlin
Memories of the 1936 Games are inescapable, particularly with the American team sporting the initials JO on their uniforms to celebrate the great Jesse Owens.
And it was also in this very stadium that Italy lifted the World Cup three summers ago, beating France on penalties.
But attendances have been dwindling this week at the World Athletics Championships - and even Usain Bolt has failed to turn the tide.
His world record 100m performance on Sunday was not witnessed by a full house, despite attracting around ten million television viewers in Germany.
And now the IAAF are facing a barrage of questions over their failure to get enough bums on seats.
"The stadium is too big," claimed general secretary Pierre Weiss.
"Back in 1995 in Gothenburg, the stadium was packed but it had a capacity of 33,000.
"And athletics is different to other sports. Football matches are not played nine days in a row in the same place - they move from city to city.
"Here it is in the same city the whole time, which has an impact on attendances.
"I went to see Hertha Berlin against Hanover in the first weekend of the Bundesliga season and there were only around 30,000 people there.
"So, yes I want to see the stadiums full but because of the capacity it would take thousands more tickets to be sold to reach that stage."
Ticket prices range at the World Championships range from an affordable 34.90 euros to a whopping 153.55 euros for a seat at the finish line.
But, despite some glorious weather, so far there have not been enough takers among the German public.
And with Bolt set to run in the 200m final and the 4x100m relay over the next few days, you cannot help but feel they are really missing out.
* UPDATE 20/9/09 11AM - Strangely, this morning's session despite looking far from exciting on paper has attracted a pretty healthy turnout.