Buying Games tickets
Tickets to the Olympic Games are allocated by country, then distributed by those countries' Olympic committees or their authorized agents.
The official broker for the U.S. and Canada is CoSport, a New Jersey-based company.
From April to June, the company took applications for tickets. In October, it will begin selling what tickets are left on a first-come, first-served basis.
Prices range from $5 to more than $100, depending on the event.
Adam Wixted, CoSport's director, declined to estimate what percentage of tickets would be left, saying the company was still in the phase of allocating and confirming sales from the first round.
Individuals are limited to eight tickets per event and a maximum of 48 tickets. There is a limit of two tickets per applicant to the opening and closing ceremonies.
Some resellers are also hawking tickets on the Internet, but the U.S. Olympic Committee said it couldn't guarantee the authenticity of tickets purchased from anyone other than CoSport.
For more information, go to www.cosport.com.
On the north side of
Beijing, a stadium designed to look like a huge bird's nest is
nearing completion. Nearby stands the new aquatics center, with
walls made of plastic rectangles that look like huge water bubbles,
and a sprawling complex comprising sports venues, administration
buildings and an apartment village for athletes and Olympic
The massive construction project is just
one of many efforts under way as China prepares to host the Summer
Olympics for the first time.
In the hutongs, the traditional
neighborhoods in the heart of the city, retirees are learning
English so they can help the 40,000 or so visitors the country is
expecting the Games to draw.
Factories and mines are being closed to
help reduce air pollution.
Automobile emission standards, previously
based on European specifications, have been
A huge wind farm is being developed to
provide power to Olympic venues.
The Chinese Meteorological Association
has even begun test-firing clay rockets into the atmosphere in an
attempt to thin rain clouds and pollution.
Acutely mindful of the barrage of
negative international press about human rights issues, pollution
and toxic contamination of toys, food and other "Made in China"
products, government and Olympic officials are intent on making
sure that the 2008 Olympics outshine previous Games and give
Beijing validation as one of the world's great
"The most significance of the Olympics is
to let the world know China and Beijing," said Li Jicheng, market
development director for the Beijing Tourism
To make sure it's a success, said Wang Hui, executive deputy
director of Beijing's Olympic organizing committee's communications
department, people are "working 'round the clock" on preparations
for the Games, which are almost a year
Efficient and ahead of
One thing the Chinese government is known
for is getting things done. Free of the red tape that often bogs
down big projects in democratic societies, construction and
infrastructure projects backed by the Chinese government can
proceed at paces practically unheard of in the Western
Unlike some past host cities that were
still scurrying to finish venues as little as a month before the
opening ceremonies, Beijing's venues are expected to be nearly
complete by the end of this year, a full eight months before the
games open on Aug. 8.
And unlike Western democracies, China's
government has the unchallenged power to implement sweeping reforms
as it struggles to boost the country's image in advance of this
gala coming-out party.
"For example," Hui said, "a chief steel
factory has been relocated. Another carbon-emitting factory has
been closed. These were some of the largest factories in
The government has also tightened
emissions standards for the country's rapidly growing number of
They are working on programs to plant
trees as far away as Mongolia, where dust storms form, and they
have ordered construction sites closed on windy days, Hui said.
They are also considering closing several coal
In advance of air quality tests by
Olympic officials, the government is executing strategies to keep
Beijing's 1 million vehicles off its crowded
"We have already achieved big
improvements," Hui said. "Usually we only have 100 clear days a
year. Last year we had 200."
Such reforms are essential, since China
is promoting next year's Games as the "green
To that end, the country is building wind
farms to help power the venues and incorporating some of the latest
in environmental protections into its Olympic buildings, Hui
Despite those efforts, the country is
suffering from unprecedented pollution levels, and international
travelers will no doubt be wary of the safety of Chinese food
products, which have been the subject of a string of highly
publicized recalls in the U.S. and
Hui says the safety concerns have been
"Food, hygiene issues are not as serious
as reported," she said. "The government has attached great
importance on food and hygiene."
The reason for the high levels of
international publicity about Chinese products is that "the
government is more confident to expose
problems, which shows determination to have everything under
control," Hui said.
She noted that the government was
aggressively punishing high-level officials deemed responsible for
During the summer, the former head of
China's food and drugs oversight agency was executed for taking
"Everybody is trying to make every effort
to get it under control," she said.
Chinese officials have been planning the
Games since before their winning bid was announced in 2001. They
want everything to be the biggest and the best in Olympic
Hui noted that 205 countries were
expected to participate, the most in the history of the
China has enlisted filmmaker Steven
Spielberg to help design its opening ceremonies, which Hui said
were expected to include the longest torch-relay lighting ceremony
in Olympic history.
China will pick up the torch in Athens on
March 25. It will then be taken from "Beijing to Europe, around the
globe and then back again" by air, boat, horseback, every possible
form of transportation, Hui said.
Tough tickets and pricey
As with all Olympic Games, a major
challenge is affordable lodging and
That may be an even bigger challenge in
Beijing, as it will be the first opportunity for much of the
country's 1.3 billion citizens to attend Olympic events, since
travel outside the country is highly
"Everyone wants to see the Olympics
because it's never been in China," said Yimei Guo, general manager
of U. S. operations for China Travel Service, China's oldest and
largest travel service.
Last month, the Olympic committee
finalized its lodging requirements, releasing the remaining
available rooms in and around Beijing for travel companies to begin
Guo said there would be about 26,000
rooms available in nearly 5,000 hotels around Beijing. About 10,000
of those will be in two- to five-star
The tourism administration estimates that
16,000 to 18,000 rooms will be needed, meaning that current supply
is more than ample, Guo said.
Even central Beijing still has rooms, "if
you can pay high rates," she said. "It really depends how much you
English-language newspaper China Daily
recently reported that Beijing officials were concerned that some
hotels were planning to raise their rates as much 10 times the
normal rate. But Guo estimates the price increases will be closer
to three or four times the normal rates.
The only certainty is that prices are
going to be unpredictable. Most bookings require a minimum 50%
deposit, according to China Travel
Tickets to the actual events, however,
may be a lot harder to come by than hotel
Each country gets an allotment of
tickets, and China's share is being doled out through a national
lottery. To guard against scalping,
those who win tickets will be required to show their national
identification when entering the venue.
Guo recommends that international
spectators get tickets through their countries (see report,
above), after which agencies like hers can help book travel,
hotel rooms and side tours around Beijing and other parts of
Despite the growing international media
attention to problems in China, excitement in Beijing is mounting
as the final countdown to the Games
In hotel lobbies, promotional videos
running on a loop tout the upcoming games and how they will "cement
Beijing's place among the world's great
A huge sign at an intersection near the
Olympic Village and the Chinese Olympic Committee's headquarters
count down the days, hours and seconds until the Games opening
ceremonies: Aug. 8, 2008, at 8 p.m.
The triple-eight date is significant in
China, as the number is associated with good fortune. And good
fortune is indeed what Chinese officials feel they had when they
landed the event.
"All the world and the media will focus
on Beijing," said Li. "Four billion people will be watching. This
is very good exposure. No other event could have such
To contact reporter Jeri Clausing, send
e-mail to [email protected].