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Touts cashing in on red-hot tickets
Martin Zhou in Beijing
Prices for opening ceremony, 110m hurdles and soccer finals soar on internet
Cash-hungry ticket holders are rubbing their hands in glee as the black market promises huge returns on admissions to the glamour events at next year's Olympics.
An internet-driven black market is seeing prices soar for seats for the 110-metres hurdles, featuring Chinese poster boy Liu Xiang, and the soccer final - with touts jacking up prices to more than 20 times the face value.
State media reported yesterday that premium deals for the 110m hurdles final have been tagged at up to 40,000 yuan each, 25 times the face value of 800 yuan.
And popular cyber marketplace Taobao.com even tags a 5,000-yuan ticket to the red-hot opening ceremony at an astronomical 360,000 yuan, or at a 72-fold increase.
It might all sound like a hoax but a tentative inquiry with the self-styled vendor indicated he had a clear idea about what he was doing.
'I will present you with my subscription code and produce the letter sent by the games organisers confirming my purchase of the ticket before you make any payment ... so authenticity is the last thing you have to worry about,' said the scalper, who identified himself as Wang Junin, from Shanxi province.
Wang claimed he was one of the the 300,000 plus winners emerging from a recent computerised lottery deciding the allocation of 1.59 million tickets, the first batch of seven million up for sale globally.
Wang was among 720,000 applicants who had requested 5.18 million tickets.
Organisers began sending out letters to successful applicants and ticket offers have since been popping up on websites catering to those who failed to secure seats in the selections.
The 26,000 opening and closing-ceremony tickets, ranging from 200 to 5,000 yuan, were oversubscribed a whopping 21 times.
Each ticket, bought under a real name and bearing the photo of the owner, can only change hands once, according to the Beijing Organising Committee of the Olympic Games, with a mandatory report to the organising body about the transfer.
But officials didn't make clear whether they would intervene in the second-hand market, thus keeping it open to profiteers.
Tickets to other events are subject to even fewer restrictions. An office worker in Beijing, who gave his name as Jia, was touting six tickets to the men's soccer final at 5,000 yuan each, nearly 10 times the original price of 600 yuan.
'I had my subscription approved but I probably can't make it because of a schedule conflict,' said Jia. 'But the price is negotiable. I'm a reasonable man.'
Not every tout is that modest.
'Please check the market before you make an inquiry,' opening ceremony ticket-holder Wang sniffed at the complaint about his sky-high quotation.
'You can feel the sizzling demand from the sheer number of applicants who lost in the lottery. If you find it unacceptable, that's fine. My ticket will find its way into the hands of a willing buyer.'
Touts are jacking up prices for the opening ceremony by this many times 72