Ticket woes continuing at Games

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Ticket woes continuing at Games

GUANGZHOU, China - With less than a week to go, Guangzhou fans are still complaining of a lack of tickets to Asian Games events and exorbitant prices for matches involving China.

The complaints come after organizers announced last week that an extra 400,000 tickets were being released to help solve the problem of empty seats at some arenas.

“I haven’t heard anything about more tickets being available,” said Guo Wugang, 23, who was playing basketball in a park in the city’s central Yuexiu District.

“I’m mainly interested in watching China’s matches, but I would go to other games if someone gave me a ticket.”

Like many Cantonese here, Guo said he was watching most of the games on television, adding that he did not have the money to buy tickets for his favorite events.

Tickets to watch iconic 110-meter hurdler Liu Xiang were reportedly fetching 1,600 yuan ($242), nearly a month’s salary for many young workers, while table tennis, basketball and football tickets were as high as 600 yuan.

“I think it is great that Guangzhou is hosting the Asian Games,” said Lisa Zhang, 31, who runs a clothing shop on Beijing Road’s crowded pedestrian street.

“But I’m too busy trying to make money to go to the games,” she said, echoing a widely held sentiment in Guangzhou, the nerve center of China’s booming export-oriented industry.

Although the crowd turnout for China matches has been good - 43,000 fans at a men’s football match and more than 16,000 at basketball games - numerous seats at venues in a wide-range of events involving non-China teams remain empty.

Taxi driver Liu Guohong considers himself lucky.

He was given a 400 yuan ticket for Friday’s gold medal doubles matches in table tennis, where he watched the Chinese team win the men’s, women’s and mixed doubles gold medals.

“All the finalists were from China, so there was no real excitement; everyone knew China was going to win,” Liu said. “I would have preferred seeing matches where China was playing another country.”

While most Guangzhou citizens said they were proud of China’s performance at the Asian Games, where the host team was running away with medals, many said that such domination was to be expected.

“China is a huge country with a huge population, so it is normal for us to win so many medals,” said Xu Jianhong, 22, a bartender at Wunderbar, near Tianhe Stadium.

Despite the buzz of the nation’s Asian Games domination, traditional pastimes still appeared to be front and center in Guangzhou with the lottery kiosk on Beijing Road chock full of punters, while the clack of mahjong tiles could be heard in alleyways everywhere.

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