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Locals Prefer Olympics on TV
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Some Beijing residents say that TV will be the most important medium for them to experience the 2008 Olympics, followed by newspaper and radio.

According to survey results released by researchers from the Beijing Academy of Social Sciences (BASS), a chief think-tank in the Chinese capital, 85 percent of those surveyed said they would watch the Games on TV, while 42 percent would turn to newspapers and 35 percent would listen to the radio.

Meanwhile, 24 percent said they would go to the sports venues. And only 18 percent of respondents said they would watch events on the Internet.

More than half of those surveyed, 52 percent, said high prices would prohibit them from buying tickets to events, while 43 percent noted their work may not allow them any spare time to see Olympic events.

Traffic was a concern for some respondents 31 percent believed traffic jams would be likely, but few seemed to mention the hot weather as a problem during the Games.

BASS researchers Nian Wei and Wen Boneng did the survey last year. The survey covered a community in downtown Beijing that had "typical characteristics" of ordinary residents in the city, they said.

They published the results in the book "The Social Development Report of China's Capital (2006)" with a co-authored paper entitled "Research on the Sports Life and Olympic Knowledge of Community Residents in Beijing."

Popular events

A total of 54 percent of the residents surveyed said they would follow basketball events during the Games, while 53 percent said they would prefer table tennis.

Soccer is also a hot event at 49 percent, followed by volleyball at 46 percent, the survey showed.

Only 2 percent said they would like to see softball. The percentage is the same for water polo, kayaking and modern pentathlon.

In the survey, most males said they preferred soccer and basketball, while females said they would like to see table tennis.

As to the motivation for watching events, 49 percent of the residents surveyed said they wanted to see the competitive skills of the athletes, while 45 percent said they liked the performance aspect.

And 45 percent said they wanted to see Chinese athletes achieve good results. But few seemed to care about the atmosphere or the cost of tickets.

Olympic ticket prices

Nian also predicted the average ticket prices for the 2008 Games could be between US$20 and US$30.

Nian's research on Olympic ticket prices shows that the average price for Olympic events since 1972 has accounted for between 0.1 percent and 0.5 percent of the local per capita GDP. Nian said there should be a gap between high-cost and low-cost tickets for the 2008 Olympics.

He said per capita GDP for Beijing residents in the year 2008 could hit around US$6,000, and average ticket prices for the 2008 Games would therefore be between US$6 and US$30. Deducting other factors, he thought the best price range could be between US$20 and US$30.

Nian told China Daily that he thought some sports would see higher ticket prices such as basketball (US$39), diving (US$38), swimming and boxing (both US$37), followed by track and field events (US$36), synchronized swimming (US$34) and football (US$30).

Low-cost events could include rowing and shooting events (both US$10), archery and softball (both US$9).

"Other events could be priced between US$11 and US$27," he said.

Too high?

But some Beijingers have other ideas about ticket prices, according to the survey.

Some 42 percent of the residents said they thought the average ticket prices for the 2008 Olympics should range between 20 yuan (US$2.5) and 50 yuan (US$6.15).

Only 23 percent of residents responding to the survey said they could accept a price ranging between 50 yuan (US$6.15) and 100 yuan (US$12.3). None of the respondents said they wanted to spend over 1,000 yuan (US$123) on a ticket.

Nian said the people included in the survey sample had monthly incomes ranging from less than 500 yuan (US$61.6) to over 3,000 yuan (US$369.9).

"Though a price range between US$20 and US$30 is far below the average ticket prices for the Olympics in the past decades, it may be still hard to attract Beijing community residents to the sports venues," said Nian.

"I think the ticket price should be as low as possible, so that we common folks are willing to buy one to see a game. For me, I think 50 yuan (US$6.15) is OK," said Zhang Bin, a migrant worker from East China's Shandong Province, who now works as a security guard in Beijing's Chaoyang District.

Liu Huilin, an accountant in Haidian District, said she is willing to accept a ticket price above 200 yuan (US$24.6). "The Olympic Games in Beijing is a rare event. Even if the prices are a bit high, I would like to go," she said.

Locals see benefits

More than 70 percent of those surveyed told the researchers they thought hosting the 2008 Olympics could help raise the international profile of the Chinese capital, and 42 percent said the event is conducive to enhancing the cultural awareness of locals.

Some 41 percent of the interviewees noted Beijing's infrastructure and environment would be improved through the Games, and 37 percent said they are hopeful the city's employment rate will increase.

Moreover, some 28 percent said they believed the sporting lives of Beijing residents would be enriched. And 22 percent thought Beijing urbanites would get wealthier.

Most people, at 68 percent, said the city should provide education on etiquette in the lead-up to the Olympics, while 64 percent expected their English to improve.

More than half of the respondents, 54 percent, wanted to see better publicity on security issues, while 36 percent believed promoting Beijing's history and culture is important.

(China Daily July 28, 2006)

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