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Reporter apologizes for Olympic ticket scuffle
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A reporter with a Hong Kong-based newspaper apologized on Friday afternoon to a Beijing policeman who he had injured after a scuffle at an Olympic Games ticket outlet.

 China News Service

Felix Wong, a South China Morning Post (SCMP) newspaper photographer, was released after he was taken away by police in the morning. He was escorted away from the scene after breaking through a barricade set up to control a crowd lined up to buy tickets and kicking a policeman in the groin, a Beijing municipal government information office spokesman said.

More than 30,000 people queued for the final chance to buy Olympic tickets near the National Stadium, aka the "Bird's Nest," at about 10:30 a.m. when the incident happened, the spokesman said.

"Police immediately informed the SCMP's Beijing bureau about the incident," he said. "At about 4 p.m., a bureau director and Felix Wong went to the hospital to visit the injured officer, Zhang Yuzhu."

"Wong made a sincere apology to Zhang and presented flowers," the spokesman said. "Wong has returned to his newspaper bureau. The bureau said it would cooperate with the investigation at any time," he added.

The fourth and final phase of Olympic ticket sales to the domestic public began on Friday morning with 820,000 tickets on offer.

The Games ticketing center said only tickets for competitions taking place locally would be available for purchase. That meant Beijing citizens could only buy 250,000 tickets for competitions in the capital area.

The information office spokesman said the weather had been very hot and some people at the ticket outlet near the "Bird's Nest" became impatient because they had been waiting a long time. Police were brought in to cordon off areas to keep order and prevent incidents like stampedes.

But the SCMP reporter did not obey police orders and broke through a temporary barricade to take photos, he said.

"When police officers asked him to leave the temporary restricted zone, Wong didn't listen. He kicked a police officer in the groin and injured him," he said. "Wong was then taken away by police for investigation, and the injured officer was sent to a nearby hospital."

During the investigation, Wong acknowledged he had not listened to police and had kicked the officer, the spokesman said.

"Zhang suffered groin injuries and needs further observation in hospital," he said.

No further details were provided.

Thousands in Beijing had been lining up at ticket booths since Wednesday noon, eager to get an Olympic ticket.

To give more people a chance to watch the Games and prevent scalping, organizers had stipulated that only two tickets per session would be available for purchase each time.

The line extended for more than two km at the ticket booth near the "Bird's Nest."

"The Olympics finally comes to China. I cannot afford to miss the opportunity!" said a woman surnamed Wang. The 67-year-old bought two tickets, one for a diving session in the Aquatic Center, aka the "Water Cube," and the other for baseball in Wukesong venue.

Although mid-day temperatures peaked at 34 degrees Celsius, people would not leave for a break. Ambulances stood by for emergencies.

Local police have detained 60 suspects for scalping Olympic tickets in the past two months, a Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau spokesman said on Thursday.

The suspects, apprehended since May 5 when the third phase of domestic ticket sales started, were accused of reselling the tickets at inflated prices of up to 100 times the face value, the spokesman said.

(Xinhua News Agency July 26, 2008)

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