Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov

Thousands camping out in Beijing for final batch of Olympic tickets

Xu Yonghe wants tickets to the Olympics, and he is willing to camp out in sweltering heat on a dusty path for 45 hours to get one.

The Beijing resident was at the head of a line of thousands waiting on lawnchairs, under tents or on bamboo mats for the last batch of Olympic tickets that go on sale at 9 a.m. Friday (0100 GMT).

About 250,000 tickets will go on sale, left over after three previous rounds of domestic sales decided by a lottery system, and Xu, with an umbrella to keep the sun off him, has been waiting since noon (0400 GMT) Wednesday.

Asked how much it would cost to buy his two tickets from him, Xu responded: "Don't even think about it. Over my dead body."

About 10,000 people behind him were waiting to buy tickets - priced from US$15 to US$117 - for football, baseball, gymnastics, diving, and track and field events.

Many of those waiting gathered in a big party, befriending neighbors with snacks, while playing cards.

"In the first few rounds, we tried to win tickets without any luck," said Wang Caiyu, who had brought her sister and daughter along. "So this wait is worth every second for a chance to take my parents to the Olympics."

Those who weren't as patient could hire someone to wait in line for them. One migrant worker stood near the line peddling his services for US$45, half his normal monthly salary, to anyone wanting to buy a ticket but not willing to spend a night.

Others, who did not want to be identified because they could get in trouble, said they were in the line for their companies. "I am here to get tickets for my boss," said one.

In addition to the tickets on sales for Olympic events in Beijing, another 570,000 tickets will go on sale for football matches in co-host cities: Tianjin, Shanghai, Shenyang and Qinhuangdao.

In total, about 6.8 million Olympic tickets have been available for domestic and foreign sales. The Olympics start Aug. 8.

In November, organizers were embarrassed when the computer system crashed, forcing organizers to sack the Olympic ticketing chief and revert to a lottery system to sell tickets.

Organizers have said they are taking precautions against fake tickets and scalping, both of which are very common in China.