BEIJING Canadian pop superstar Celine Dion's April 13 Beijing concert has been cancelled because the organizers failed to obtain a permit despite selling thousands of tickets, local media reported.
But an official with China's Culture Ministry on Wednesday said the singer's concert had been approved.
The Beijing Evening News on Tuesday quoted a spokesman for the singer as denying earlier media reports that Dion had postponed her concert at the 64,000-seat Workers Stadium due to concern that the city's sandstorm-afflicted spring weather could affect her recovery from a recent throat infection.
The spokesman said the real reason for the cancellation was that the concert's organizer "had sold more than 10,000 tickets, having not carried out the approval process," the Beijing Evening News said on Tuesday, citing a statement from the spokesman.
"Celine Dion will solve (the issue) through legal channels," the paper quoted the statement as saying.
An official in the department involved in event approvals at the culture ministry said on Wednesday that Dion's Beijing concert had been approved.
"The concert was approved. You should check with the organizers," the official, surnamed Pan, told Reuters by telephone.
Officials at Dion's concert organizer, Emma Ticketmaster, were not available for comment. Staff contacted at the company's sales hotline said Dion's concert had been "postponed for health reasons", and ticket-holders could get refunds, but no new date had been fixed.
The company's Web site on Wednesday advertised Dion's Beijing concert without attaching a date. Dion would perform her first concert in China in Shanghai on April 11, according to the Web site.
China-based Emma Ticketmaster was involved in a controversy last month after Icelandic singer Bjork played her song, "Declare Independence", and chanted "Tibet! Tibet!" during a concert the company promoted in Shanghai last month.
China's Culture Ministry said it would tighten controls over foreign performers after the Bjork incident, but ministry officials later said it was an isolated case and would not affect foreign artists coming to perform.
Dion would still come to Beijing, the paper said, to participate in a promotional event for the Olympic Games on April 12.
Dion postponed a series of Australian concerts as part of her world tour due to a throat infection, her publicists said on Friday.
A concert in Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur had been moved to April 13, Dion's official Web site (www.celinedion.com) said, and the Beijing concert was marked "more information to follow."
Dion sang the theme song "The Power of the Dream" at the opening ceremony of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics but is best known for "My Heart Will Go On", a song from the movie "Titanic", which was a huge hit in Asia.
(Reporting by Ian Ransom and Beijing newsroom; Editing by David Fox)
("Countdown to Beijing Olympics" blog at blogs.reuters.com/china))