Ticket prices for opening bash rise and fall 'like the stock market'

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 15 July, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 15 July, 2008, 12:00am

A ticket holder took a deep breath at 5pm yesterday, the deadline for reselling tickets to the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony.

'It's good and bad,' Mr Zhou said. 'The bad news is that I'm stuck with this ticket instead of selling it for a fortune. Of course, the good news is I've got a rare chance to reward myself by watching such a big event in person.'

Mr Zhou is one of hundreds, if not thousands, of people who have posted their tickets on auction websites in the past few months in hopes of getting a high price for them.

Tickets with face values ranging from 200 yuan (HK$229) to 5,000 yuan, depending on the location of the seat, have been selling for 10 to 30 times their face values since June 20 - until prices nosedived as yesterday's deadline drew near.

Mr Zhou posted his ticket on the popular Taobao.com and was offered 30,000 yuan for his 1,500 yuan C Class ticket last month. But he rejected the bid because he had heard that someone had sold C class tickets for as much as 50,000 yuan each.

'It's like the stock market. When you read the market trend wrongly, you don't buy or sell at the right time,' Mr Zhou said.

Only about 26,000 opening-ceremony tickets went on sale to the public last year, and only a limited number of people won tickets through the online lottery.

To reduce rampant trade in the tickets, the Games organisers ordered ticket holders to register with their real names, and restricted them to one transfer before the deadline.

The measure caused varied reactions. Many argued that the transfer limit cut the tickets' market value. Others, such as Mr He, a Beijing-based owner of a trading company, complained that the restrictions pushed up the prices.

'The measure has definitely reduced the number of tickets available in the market and pushed up the prices in the early stages,' he said. He paid 60,000 yuan for each of three 5,000 yuan tickets he bought for his key customers last month. But the peak came and went quickly.

As Mr Zhou watched many C Class tickets sold for about 25,000 yuan or even 20,000 yuan last weekend, he decided to follow suit and lowered his price to 20,000 yuan.

About six people called yesterday asking the price, but none took further action. Somebody called him yesterday afternoon offering 18,000 yuan, but Mr Zhou turned it down.

'I'm not desperate because I do have an alternative - to watch the ceremony myself,' he said.

Mr Zhou had only one regret as the transaction deadline neared. 'I'm really sorry my wife cannot go with me. But I will definitely buy her some gifts to help her forget this.'