SOCHI, Russia, Jan. 18 (UPI) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin hinted the stands at the Sochi Winter Olympics will be full despite sluggish ticket sales.
Putin told reporters Friday there is no reason there should not be good crowds for the games even though organizers said earlier in the week that plenty of tickets were still available.
"Why should places go empty?" Putin told reporters when asked about the slow box office. "It is better that they're filled, and occupied by people who love sport."
Russia's R-Sport said Putin's statements were taken as a signal that "volunteers" could be filling some of the unsold seats once the competition begins next month.
Organizers said 30 percent of tickets remained unsold as of Thursday, including men's hockey and Alpine skiing events, R-Sport reported.
Putin was reflective in a recent interview with a group of journalists, the RIA Novosti news agency said, saying Sochi was a step away from the past.
"There is a sort of moral moment," Putin said.
"After the collapse of the USSR and the difficult and bloody events in the Caucasus, the general state of society is one of dejection and pessimism," Putin said. "We need to cheer up (and) understand and feel that we can put on such large-scale projects."