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Chinese Fans Ready for World Cup
Tens of thousands of Chinese football fans are eagerly awaiting the May 31 start of the World Cup finals in the Republic of Korea (ROK).

Agents with China International Sports Travel, which was designated by the China Football Association to sell tickets to the event that occurs every four years, said 20,000 Chinese fans will likely watch the Chinese national team perform in the ROK.

According to FIFA's initial ticket distribution plan, China will get 8 percent, or 10,749 tickets, for the three qualifier matches in which China would take part.

Through negotiations with the three countries in the group China is competing with, China scored 9,000 tickets not sold in those countries.

This World Cup marks the China national team's debut after 44 years of trying.

China International Travel Service said at least 60,000 Chinese football fans will travel to co-hosts ROK and Japan during the one-month-long tournament in light of its historical significance for China.

Many Chinese booked tickets online from agents in the ROK and Japan through Internet. Many international companies also awarded their business partners or customers in China with tickets, officials said.

Shi Xinyue, a senior at Peking University, was among the fans who booked tickets on FIFA's website.

"I got three tickets -- Spain vs South Africa; US vs Poland; and a second stage match -- for US$220," Shi said. All of those matches will be held in the ROK.

Although he did not get any tickets for matches that China will play, he said he would still cheer for China.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has set up a hotline in the ROK to help fans with questions. The number is 1588-9010.

Airlines in China and the ROK are offering more flights to accommodate the extra travelers. In all, the number of air routes between the two countries will jump from 18 at present to 25 during the World Cup, under an agreement signed in February between aviation administrators in both countries.

(China Daily May 27, 2002)

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