08/02/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Eager Olympic Sports Fans in China

When Western leaders are talking about the human rights issue in China and boycotting the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics, China's response is always like "the Olympics are merely sport events. No politics should be involved." Such responses often encounter critical skepticism not just in the West and but also among Chinese critics. While it is true that politics have always been part of the Olympics in its history of more than one hundred years, let's forget about politics for a moment and look at the eagerness of the Chinese sports fans to watch the Olympic Games in Beijing.

Today is July 25. This morning at around 8 AM, when I rode my bicycle to my workplace at Chaoyang Park, the competition venue of Beach Volleyball, I saw a huge crowd of people gathering around East Gate 4, some with umbrellas and others with food, water and biscuits. Inside the Gate, people were standing in five streams separated by cordons, with each steam of at least 100-meter long. Thousands of people were waiting to purchase tickets for beach volleyball. This is the last chance for sport lovers to watch games on site.

Today, about 820 thousand tickets of the last wave will be on sale starting from 9 AM. There are so many eager fans in China that tickets become scarce resources. It was reported that over 20 thousand people lined up overnight in front of the Olympic Center Ticketing Booth (Aolin Pike Zhongxin Qu shoupiao ting) (see this site). People also come from surrounding areas such as Tianjin to purchase tickets.

My nephew, who is a 19-year old college student in Beijing, has countless stories to tell about how difficult it is to get sport tickets. He is a big basketball fan and would love to see Yao Ming and Kobe Bryant play in Beijing. He has reserved tickets from various sources with little luck. He stated that his friend did not get the tickets they reserved either. Because tickets have become a scarce resource in China, the Beijing Olympic Organizers use a system to "draw lot." Only the lucky few can get tickets to watch games on site. The majority will have to stay at home to watch TV like people in other parts of the world.

Ticket holders can re-sell tickets to earn a huge profit margin. The Internet is used to re-sell tickets. For example, typing in "ao yun menpiao zhuan rang" in Baidu will get 14 million hits in less than second. While my high school friend is lucky to get many tickets he desires for because he booked tickets in the first and second waves and because he booked as many as possible, he did not get the basketball ticket for the semifinal, which he paid 2000 Yuan for a ticket priced at 300.