Qatari organizers have acknowledged giving away free tickets in an attempt to fill the track stadium.
The acknowledgment came on the ninth day of the world track and field championships in Doha where empty seats Khalifa Stadium have been a blot on the IAAF showpiece.
The local organizing committee says it - along with “partners and public institutions” - distributed the tickets in a “marketing outreach to embassies, employees, schools and higher education.”
Via an international PR company, the committee says some fans have been leaving the stadium after watching specific events and they have tried to find people to occupy those seats to “keep the stadium as full as possible.”
A statement says organizers particularly wanted to give people the opportunity to see Mutaz Barshim of Qatar win high jump gold on Friday night and they claim the crowd exceeded 40,000.
The championships end Sunday night.