Front Page of the Day
Posted by Eric Mu on Friday, July 25, 2008 at 2:40 PM
The 250 thousand remaining tickets to the Olympic games went on sale at nine am this morning at various venues around Beijing. But for many determined citizens, the quest to obtain a ticket to the Olympics started much earlier.
Yesterday afternoon when he was interviewed by Beijing News, Xu Yongheng was sitting in the scorching July sun outside the Olympic Center in Beishicheng Street, Chaoyang District. He had been waiting for 24 hours, and he would wait for another 21 hours until the tickets went on sale.
Xu takes pride in the fact that he is the first one in the line. Being the first person in the three kilometer long line puts him in the spotlight: "Yes, I am the first one. I came at noon on Wednesday." Xu repeats it again and again to the journalists from all forms of domestic and international media.
"Some are from Hong Kong, laowai also took pictures of me..." Xu said proudly. "I want to show the whole world how much we Chinese love the Olympic Games."
People who camp out in line bring with them most of life necessities: tents, mats, folding chairs, food and water. To kill time, many gather to play poker games. Losers are punished with mandatory push-ups. "In the afternoon, you can see people doing push-ups all over the square," the Beijing News reported.
A young man surnamed Gao said he was dispatched by his boss on Thursday morning to wait in line to buy tickets. The apprehensive Gao says that his job is on the line, "My boss says he'll fire me if I can't buy a ticket."
Gao is worried because even though he will wait in line for 24 hours, there are over a thousand people in front of him. Neither Gao nor his boss are interested in the Games; they are buying the tickets to give as gifts to important clients.
Despite the efforts by authorities to curb ticket speculation, the prices of the most sought after tickets are running high; a ticket to the 110 meter hurdle final in which China's superstar Liu Xiang will most likely compete, is selling on the Internet for 9,000 yuan, more than eleven times the official price.
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