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Television Wins Olympic Gold!
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Television has been identified by the majority of Beijing residents as the most important outlet for them to experience the 2008 Olympics with newspapers and radio coming behind the small screen. 

According to survey results released by researchers from the Beijing Academy of Social Sciences (BASS), a respected think-tank in the Chinese capital, 85 percent of those surveyed said they would watch the 2008 Olympic Games on TV while 42 percent would turn to newspapers and 35 percent the radio.

Almost a quarter--24 percent--said they would actually go to the sports venues. However, just 18 percent of respondents said they'd watch events on the Internet.

More than half of those surveyed, 52 per cent, said high prices would prohibit them from buying tickets to events and 43 percent said their work may not allow them time off to watch Olympic events.

Traffic was a concern for many respondents with 31 percent believing traffic jams were likely but few mentioned the hot weather as a likely problem during the Games.

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

They published the results in their 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 residents surveyed said they would follow basketball during the Games while 53 percent said they preferred table tennis. Soccer is a hot event with 49 percent of respondents interested in it and volleyball is not far behind at 46 percent.

Only two percent said they would watch softball. The percentage was the same for water polo, kayaking and modern pentathlon. In the survey most males said they preferred soccer and basketball while females liked to watch table tennis.

As to the motivation for watching events 49 percent of those surveyed said they wanted to see the competitive skills of the athletes while 45 percent said they liked the performance aspect. And 45 percent also 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 would be between US$20 and US$30.

Nian's research on Olympic ticket costs shows that the average price for events since 1972 has accounted for between 0.1 and 0.5 per cent of the local per capita GDP. Nian said there should be a gap between high 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 Games should therefore be between US$6 and US$30. Taking in 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 (both US$10), archery and softball (both US$9). "Other events could be priced between US$11 and US$27," he said.

Too expensive?

But some Beijingers have other ideas about ticket prices according to the survey. Some 42 percent of residents said they thought the average ticket prices for the 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 prices 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 range of US$20 to US$30 is far below the average ticket prices for the Olympics in the past decades it may still be hard to attract Beijing community residents to the sports venues," said Nian.

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

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

But locals see benefits. More than 70 per cent of those surveyed told the researchers they thought hosting the 2008 Olympics could help raise the international profile of the Chinese capital and 42 per cent said the event was helpful in improving the cultural awareness of local people.

Some 41 per cent of the interviewees said Beijing's infrastructure and environment would be improved by the Games and 37 per cent hoped the city's employment rate would increase as a result of the event.

Some 28 per cent said they believed the sporting lives of Beijing residents would be enriched. And 22 per cent thought city urbanites would get wealthier.

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

More than half of the respondents, 54 per cent, wished to see better publicity on security issues and 36 per cent believed promoting Beijing's history and culture was important.

(China Daily July 28, 2006)

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