Chinese officials are estimating that tickets to the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing will generate $140 million in sales, according to the business website ChinaKnowledge.com.

Due to the size and scope of recent games, staging the Olympics has become an increasingly dicey proposition for many countries. Organizers fret over the prospect of unsold tickets, but those concerns are dwarfed by anxieties over security issues. The cost of putting on a modern Olympics has skyrocketed over the past 20-plus years, and China is expected to spend more than $30 billion, which is part of more than $150 billion the country has sunk into infrastructure improvements, according to published reports. The country is offsetting a portion of those costs with the sale of sponsorship and television rights, merchandising and private investment, among other revenue sources….

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Both the Athens Summer Games in 2004 and the Torino Winter Games in 2006, had difficulty selling tickets, and even though China has more an a billion residents it could still run into the same problem. On top of that, there are the geopolitical ramifications of hosting the games, which if successful could help to further improve China’s reputation around the world.

Following a growing trend among organizers of large-scale events, the Chinese are requiring ticket buyers to the opening and closing ceremonies submit identification photos with their purchase. The move is an attempt to thwart scalping, or the chance of terrorists obtaining tickets. People can only buy one ticket to the opening and closing events, and that ticket can only be transferred once with advance permission from the Olympic committee.

Tickets for the games will sell for a low of $12 – for Chinese students the price will be $1.30 – up to $646, and the first round of selling within China began this week when organizers released 7 million tickets. In all, they expect to print a total of 9 million tickets and will offer a significant percentage of them to foreigners. Chinese citizens will have the chance to purchase the majority of the tickets.