China says ticket sales unaffected by torch protests
BEIJING (Reuters) - Protests which have dogged the global leg of the Beijing Olympic torch relay have had no effect on international ticket sales for the Games, a senior official said on Wednesday. If anything, the problem is that overseas demand keeps on rising, Zhu Yan, director of ticketing for the Games, told a news conference.
"The general situation is that Olympic tickets have received an enthusiastic welcome," he said. "The main pressure at the moment is that all around the world there is continuing demand to add tickets.
Anti-Chinese protests, largely over Beijing's handling of deadly riots in Tibet in March, have marred the relay in London, Paris and San Francisco, with many exiled Tibetans trying to snatch or extinguish the torch.
Thousands of pro-Tibet supporters have promised to hold a peaceful rally during Thursday's torch relay in Canberra, but thousands of Chinese students were also expected to rally to support China.
Beijing organizers were in close touch with National Olympic Committees, who handle ticket sales outside China, to ensure there were enough tickets, Zhu added.
"Beijing organizers keep digging out resources for tickets to satisfy demand from all over the world," he said.
China will start the third round of domestic ticket sales from May 5, and on Wednesday unveiled for the first time the design for the tickets, which have many high-tech features to prevent fraud and copying.
Zhu promised there would be no repeat of foul-ups which have marred previous ticket sales. His predecessor was sacked in November after overwhelming demand caused the ticketing system to collapse.
"I have faith that we can satisfy demand for tickets during the third phase," Zhu said. "I hope we can provide the best service."
A total of 1.38 million tickets will be released in this round for 16 sports, including boxing, softball, beach volleyball and wrestling.
Two-thirds of the seven million tickets available to the public have already been sold.
Beijing expects thousands of accredited reporters to cover the Games, but also thousands of unaccredited media too.
On Friday, organizers will start accepting applications for non-accredited media and insisted that the Games would be open to all and that there would be no blacklist of reporters or organizations the government considers anti-China.
"We should say that there won't be," said Sun Ying, deputy head of the Beijing International Media Centre. "We will process (applications) strictly in accordance with Chinese law."
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard and Liu Zhen; Editing by Nick Macfie)
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