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  • Countdown Beijing: China Offers Media Reassurances


    Beijing is "willing to provide services and facilitate" Games reporting, according to the foreign ministry. (Getty Images)  
    China Welcomes Media Fairness, Objectivity

    The Chinese government says it will welcome “fair and objective” Olympics coverage by foreign journalists.

    "We have emphasized that with the upcoming Olympics, the Chinese government and people sincerely welcome reporters from around the world to come to China and cover the Games in a fair and objective way," foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang told a news conference Tuesday.

    His comments are in response to a letter last week sent to the IOC from Paris-based Reporters Without Borders, accusing China of withholding press freedoms.

    Qin said the NGO has "consistently attacked China".

    In the past year, the Chinese government has introduced new rules for foreign media that relax restrictions on travel and increases the access of journalists to interview Chinese.

    Reuters news agency said this week that one of its reporters was manhandled by security guards as he tried speaking to residents of a Beijing apartment block scheduled for demolition to make way for an Olympics-related security lane.

    BOCOG Warns Against Online Fake Merchandise

    Beijing 2008 has issued a harsh warning to the growing number of online merchants selling unofficial merchandise.
    Makers of fake merchandise may face criminal charges. (Getty Images)  

    Chinese state media reports that 80 websites have been discovered illegally selling Olympic merchandise, causing a sales decline for the official e-commerce website over the last two months.

    Official website sales have reportedly dropped to $135,000 a month during the last two months.

    Some online shops had allegedly copied the sales page of the official website but changed the contact information to theirs.

    Li Yanjun, a BOCOG official in charge of legal affairs, says the offending websites will be punished according to their degree of their profiteering.

    "Those who have made huge illegal gains will be handed to local public security departments to determine their criminal responsibility," Li said.

    BOCOG has set a sales target of $70 million in licensed merchandising of about 4,000 Olympic products.

    Beijing Paralympics Tickets on Offer Next Week

    Ticket applications for the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games will be made available to mainland residents Dec. 10.

    The Olympic Ticketing Center says there will be 21,000 tickets for the opening ceremony and 26,000 tickets for the closing gala.

    The Paralympic ticket applications will be taken at the same time as the second stage of ticket sales for the Olympic Games, from December 10 to December 30.

    "There will be no time preference given and all applications will have the same opportunity to win the lottery," Zhu Yan, director of the ticketing center, says.

    The tickets for the opening ceremony will be priced in five categories, ranging from $10.80 to $351. Applications are capped at four tickets between two events per person.

    The Beijing Paralympic Games will be held from September 6 to 17 next year.
    Team Japan celebrates their Dec. 3 win. (Getty Images)  
    Japan Qualifies In Baseball, Three Nations Make Volleyball Tournament

    Japan has become the fourth country to qualify for the 2008 Olympics in baseball after beating Taiwan to win the Asian championship round-robin tournament in Taichung.

    The Japanese won the round-robin tournament to join hosts China, the United States, Olympic champions Cuba and the Netherlands in booking their place in Beijing, the last Olympic baseball tournament unless the sport is reinstated in the Games.

    In volleyball, Russia qualified for Beijing at the expense of the U.S., with a five-set victory on the final day of the men's volleyball World Cup in Tokyo last weekend.

    Defending Olympic champion Brazil and Bulgaria also qualified for next year’s Games.

    The U.S. can still make the Olympics through qualifiers, including a regional tournament next month in Puerto Rico.

    Olympics Wedding Boom Expected

    China’s state media reports a wedding boom is expected next year, times with the Beijing Olympics.

    With the year featuring the lucky Chinese number ‘8’, reservations for the eighth month, August, have hit a peak.

    More than 100,000 couples are expected to be wed in China in 2008.

    The 8th of August, 2008 is already proving to be the most popular date for engaged couples’ special days with many hotels booked that day.

    Homepage photo by Getty Images

    With reporting from
    Anthony Stavrinos in Sydney.

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