Saturday, July 26, 2008

Olympic ticket sale in Beijing starts stampede

Remember me telling you that the people of China have ZERO concept of "lines". Here is an article by Associated Press:

Thousands of eager fans who had waited for up to two days swarmed sales windows Friday for the final batch of tickets to next month's Olympic Games, knocking people to the ground and bending metal barricades in the chaotic crush.
Witnesses said scuffles broke out at one ticket site as officials opened additional sales windows at the last minute, causing some fans to stampede ahead of others in a bid to buy some of the 250,000 tickets that went on sale in different parts of the host city.
"It was so unfair," said Ji Liqiang, who waited for 28 hours with Wang Zhenqiang, a fellow businessman from eastern Shandong province, for a chance to buy tickets to the diving competition.

"Those who came late but were able to push forward got the tickets," he said.
The two lost their place in line in the scramble and ended up with tickets to the synchronized swimming instead of diving - where China is a gold-medal favorite.
"It was very dangerous. I was afraid," Wang said. "People got hurt around me. They fell and injured their knees and elbows. A barricade was bent out of shape by the crowd."
Zhang Xiaojing, 17, who came from Hebei province with her cousin and three friends, said the line was fairly orderly when she arrived Thursday afternoon. But during Friday's rush, only three of her friends were able to elbow their way close enough to be in a position to buy tickets.
"If I'm going to be disappointed, I'm going to be disappointed. But I'm so tired. I didn't sleep last night," she said.
The official Xinhua News Agency said 30,000 people lined up for tickets, but muggy weather with temperatures above 93 degrees Fahrenheit coupled with the long wait made people impatient. Police immediately took actions to maintain order, including limiting access to some areas, it said.
Some journalists were escorted away after going into the off-limit areas, Xinhua said. Hong Kong television showed several journalists pushing back and forth with police.
Footage from Hong Kong Cable TV showed a policeman putting his arm around the neck of a Hong Kong Cable TV reporter and pulling him to the ground. The reporter said he was assaulted after his crew refused to leave a media zone, Cable TV reported. They were seen surrounded by dozens of police.
A spokeswoman for Hong Kong Cable TV said it was "unacceptable" for Chinese authorities to treat the media that way.
"We hope the authorities will live up to their earlier promise to allow full freedom of the press during the Olympic Games," said Shum Siu-wah.
Despite the problems, an Olympic official said the start of the sale went well.

The photos is of a Beijing police officer dragging a man by the hair after he was removed from a line while waiting to but tickets.

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