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  • Countdown Beijing: Ticket System Crashes Under Flood of Ticket Orders


    About 1.85 million tickets are available in this round of ticketing. (Getty Images)  
    Ticket System Crashes Under Flood of Ticket Orders

    Crushing demand crashed the computer system on the first day of open ticket sales to the Beijing Olympics.

    About eight hours after sales started on-line and by phone, a message posted on the ticketing web site announcing the snafu.

    "The speed of the ticketing system is relatively slow," says the message on the BOCOG website.

    "It is temporarily unavailable. Those who want to buy tickets through Bank of China branches or the telephone hot line need to try again later."

    According to BOCOG the ticketing web site took in more than 200,000 ticket requests per second in the first hour of sale. The ticketing telephone line received more than 2 million calls in the first hour.

    Tickets went on sale in April via a lottery system. The sales that began on Tuesday marked the open of first-come, first-served sales. Organizers hope to sell about 7 million tickets to the Games.

    No Regrets, Says Rogge

    No one in the IOC regrets awarding the 2008 Games to Beijing, says IOC president Jacques Rogge.

    "We gave the games to a country that represents one fifth of mankind. And this is an added value. We gave the games to a country that will change, that is changing. It's an emerging country that is going to become one of the world powers within decades," he says in an interview with British media.

    Rogge calls human rights campaigns to highlight problems in China noble, but suggests they are misguided about the Olympics.
    "I must say that it is absolutely from their point of view, legitimate to try to get the maximum out of the Olympic Games," he says.

    "Where they make an error is to attack the IOC for not solving the problem. Where would we be able to succeed where generations of heads of state and government who have come to Beijing have not succeeded? We are a sports organization. We are not a sovereign state organization, and that gives us some limits," he says.

    "But don't expect from the IOC what the IOC cannot give. The IOC will contribute to a positive evolution. The games will contribute. But the games will not solve all the problems of the world."

    Pressure on Pasadena

    Activists packed a city council meeting in Pasadena, California on the evening of Oct. 29, demanding the city condemn China's human rights record. At the root of the dispute is a Beijing 2008 float scheduled to appear in the century-old Tournament of Roses parade in January.
    An artist's conception of the Beijing 2008 Rose Parade Float. (Festival Artists, Inc.)  

    The council heard testimony from prisoners of conscience formerly held in Chinese jails, and from family members of people said to be in prison. One Catholic monk showed a withered arm, the result, he said, of years of torture in a Chinese jail.

    A coalition of activists including Reporters without Borders, Amnesty International, Burma partisans, Christians and Falun Gong practitioners in Southern California say the Beijing float is inappropriate. Parade organizers say the float is apolitical.

    The council met Monday night to consider the city's Commission on Human Relations recommendations to recognize human rights problems in China and to consider asking a human rights activist such as the Dalai Lama to the parade.

    The council decided to send the text of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to its sister cities, one of which is the Xicheng neighborhood of Beijing.
    The Dalai Lama came to the 1996 Olympic city as a guest of Emory University, where he is a lecturer. (Emory University)  

    Dalai Lama Supports Games

    The Dalai Lama says China deserves to host the Olympic Games because it is the world's most populous nation, and an ancient nation, he told a crowed packed into Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta last week.

    But his answer suggested that the value of the Games is that they keep China in the spotlight.

    In conjunction with the Games, NGOs are raising the question of the poor human rights record in China, he said, and the world cannot ignore that.

    He called censorship and restrictions on religion, speech and the media unhealthy. The Dalai Lama said he has always emphasized that the world's most populous nation should join the mainstream of the world community.

    Baseball Envoy Begins China Trip

    U.S. baseball legend Cal Ripken Jr. begins a goodwill tour of China this week on behalf of the State Department and the sport of baseball. In July, Ripken was named an American Public Diplomacy Envoy by secretary of state Condoleezza Rice. On this trip, he will visit schools and sports clubs in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou to speak about his own life. A blog of his trip, co-sponsored by Major League Baseball, is available at

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