'People leave, especially to get food': Organizers struggle to explain empty seats at Rio 2016
With just days to go, Games organizers say they're still trying to solve the problem
Even in an Olympics where vacant seats have become the norm, the sight of the stands at Tuesday's women's soccer semifinal between Canada and Germany was enough to stop you in your tracks.
Similar scenes have played out at venue after venue during these Games, including swaths of empty seats at gold medal swimming races, Tuesday's gymnastics final and the Olympic Stadium's track events.
'We are worried'
Reporters pressed Games spokesman Mario Andrada on the issue Tuesday morning, noting at least one British athlete has complained it doesn't feel like the Olympics.
"We understand some athletes are disappointed," Andrada said. "We understand that the media is worried. We are worried."
The Games aren't very popular with Brazilians, many of whom are struggling through a crippling recession and wish their government hadn't spent billions of dollars on a sporting event.
Concerns over empty seats grew this week with reports money is now tight for the Paralympics that run Sept. 7-18 in Brazil.
Host countries typically help cover the costs of bringing athletes from around the world to the Games. But Paralympic officials now say grants from Brazil to help pay for that travel are overdue, potentially jeopardizing the ability of Paralympians in roughly 50 countries to make the trip.
Canadian athletes wouldn't be affected by the travel money issues, but they could see reduced services once in Brazil, including transportation. But Paralympic officials insist the Games themselves will go ahead regardless of the challenges.
The 2012 Paralympic Games in London nearly sold out, but ticket sales for Brazil have been especially weak, with nearly 90 per cent of tickets still available.
Meanwhile, with just days left in the competition, Olympic officials remain optimistic ticket sales can improve.
"Despite the problems that we have in stadiums not looking full, we are going after this problem, trying to solve [it] and we believe that the course we took in offering tickets the way we did is the right one," Andrada said.