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Ticket hunters face endurance test
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Thousands of people began queuing on Wednesday, in a last-ditch attempt to secure a ticket for the Olympics.

The final round of ticket sales begins today in five cities across the country. In the capital, they will be available from 18 special booths located near Olympic venues.

The Games' organizers have said that about 820,000 tickets will be available, of which 250,000 are for events in Beijing and the rest for football matches in Tianjin, Shanghai, Shenyang and Qinhuangdao.

Ticket hunters will be limited to just two tickets for any one event.

Yao Haiya was among the huge crowds near the Bird's Nest. She said she had traveled from Ningbo in Zhejiang province to try and get a ticket for the track and field event, so she could cheer on her idol, Liu Xiang.

Yao arrived on Wednesday night, equipped with supplies of water and food, her MP3 player and a tent she had bought the day before for 168 yuan ($25).

"When I got here at 10 pm, there were already hundreds of people ahead of me," the 25-year-old said.

Yao said she did not mind having to spend two nights in a tent, as it meant she would almost certainly get her precious tickets.

"You don't know how disappointed I was when I failed to get one in the third round of sales. This time I decided to do everything I could to get tickets for my husband and myself," she said.

"The cabbie who brought me here thought I was crazy, but I don't mind what others say.

"This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see the Olympics, and I can't afford to miss it," she said.

Tong Lei, who was standing beside Yao, said: "I hope to get tickets for the Water Cube, so I can see the Chinese divers become Olympic champions.

"My father sent me here, as I'm free during the holidays," the 20-year-old told China Daily, as he played Chinese chess with his new friend Yao.

Local woman Zhang Guoping was not so optimistic about her chances of getting a ticket. When she arrived yesterday morning, she found herself at the back of a queue several hundred meters long.

The 27-year-old said she was tempted to turn around and go home, but eventually decided to stay. "Although there's only a slim chance of getting a ticket, I still have to try," she said.

The organizers have said tickets will be available for almost all of the 28 Olympic sports. However, ones for events at the Bird's Nest and Water Cube are available only from the booth in that area, which is forecast to sell 30,000 between today and Sunday.

(China Daily July 25, 2008)

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