• Stadium capacities outside London reduced by 500,000
• A further 500,000 seats are still available to purchase
London 2012 organisers have admitted defeat in their drive to sell out all their venues, reducing the capacity of football stadiums around the country by 500,000 and launching a campaign to sell more than 800,000 remaining tickets across all sports.
Lord Coe, chairman of Locog, the organising committee, said that 500,000 football tickets, about a fifth of the total that originally went on sale, would be removed from the market. All stadiums outside London will be affected, with areas of seats cordoned off for some matches.
A further 500,000 football tickets will remain on sale in the 10 days before the Games open and 150,000 have been channelled through the Ticketshare scheme. Through Ticketshare, a levy is placed on tickets bought by sponsors that is then used to buy tickets for schoolchildren. But Locog said the 500,000 tickets that will now not be sold could not be given away at this late stage.
All stadiums apart from Wembley will be affected. These include Cardiff's Millennium Stadium, Hampden Park in Glasgow, the City of Coventry Stadium, St James' Park and Old Trafford.
While Team GB's matches and the knockout stages are understood to have sold well, group games involving other nations have proved more challenging.
Organisers always expected that selling out the football tournament would be their biggest challenge but the move to reduce capacities may revive criticism about the size of the stadiums chosen and the pricing.
It was hoped that the draw and the announcements of the squads would spark a late surge in sales but it has so far failed to materialise. The absence of David Beckham from the Team GB squad and the comparatively late announcement of the line-up is unlikely to have helped matters. But organisers claim they are sanguine, having hit their revenue targets and fared better than previous host cities in selling football tickets.
Coe said about 37,000 tickets had been sold for the opening sporting action of the Games – Team GB women's football team against New Zealand at the Millennium Stadium on Wednesday 25 July. Coe said the total compared well with the 8,723 who attended the women's FA Cup final at Ashton Gate in May.
There are 50,000 non-football tickets on sale and a further 250,000 will soon be back on the market due to overseas returns and contingency tickets made available once venue plans are finalised. They include tickets for the opening and closing ceremonies, beach volleyball and volleyball.
Coe also confirmed that Locog had abandoned plans to operate public box offices to sell the remaining tickets. Instead spectators will be advised to buy online and pick up their tickets from a booth in Westfield shopping centre.
Organisers have long promised that the atmosphere at the London Games will be one of the factors that sets it apart and have always been keen to avoid the swaths of empty seats on show at some venues in Beijing.
At the first official Locog press briefing of the Games Coe also admitted that the recent inclement weather has led to serious challenges, with emergency measures being taken at waterlogged venues including Greenwich Park and Eton Dorney.
The weather has proved most challenging at more rural venues such as those two, where tracks are being laid for vehicles and spectators advised to wear wellies and wet weather gear.
"This is proving quite a challenge to us. We've got waterlogged sites, we've got resurfacing taking place, particularly in some of our more sensitive sites, our more rural sites," said Coe.
"At Greenwich Park and Eton Dorney we're laying down a trackway and surfaces for spectators and vehicles, now and through the Games. We're building additional shelters for our workforce."
The Guardian revealed last week that contingency plans were being drawn up to deal with the incessant rain, in case it continued throughout the Games. Coe said events could be rescheduled if necessary.
"We have got the contingency of extra days available to us in rowing and equestrian sport as a last resort," said Coe. "We are overlaying, putting down tracks and temporary surfaces. The other contingencies are issues such as, on the day, are you going to lose a day on the rowing lake or at equestrian? Those extra days are built in, and at Weymouth we have an alternative course. It's a question of when you escalate those plans."
Although the weather remains mixed, there is hope that the latest 10-day forecast from the Met Office will provide some better news.
Coe said 733 athletes from 96 countries had checked into the Olympic Village on its opening day and many had praised the facilities on offer. "But for a missed turning and a couple of tweets, we're in pretty good shape," he said. Read More
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