Gangs of British ticket touts – scalpers – have descended on Beijing and are dealing in Olympics tickets despite warnings by the Chinese authorities that scalpers would be punished severely. The touts have travelled from London, Manchester and Liverpool to offload and even buy more tickets. The scalpers are being blamed for the poor crowds in the early rounds of the competition; a huge number of Olympics tickets was available before the Olympics began – around 6.8 million – most of which were purchased by average Chinese citizens. These citizens then sold the precious tickets to scalpers.
When Olympics tickets went on sale in China it sparked a stampede in which tens of thousands of people fought with police and went days without food or water. The paramilitary People’s Armed Police, tens of ambulances and police officers were forced to supply water and first aid, as well as act as a barricade to the mob which attempted to force their way into ticket offices.
As a security measure, microchips have been implanted in all Olympics tickets. Tickets to the opening and closing ceremonies are the only ones which contain photo ID and passport information. These tickets if purchased inside China may have their ownership transferred just once via branches of the Bank of China. The same tickets purchased outside the host country can be transferred indefinitely. The opening and closing ceremonies were subject to a relatively successful security lockdown but the rest of the Games are a different story.
The scalpers are selling all tickets at up to ten times face value. The English lads can be seen openly buying and selling tickets at the entrance to the Olympic Park. Speculation among the English is that touts must be arrested twice before they earn themselves an early plane-ride home. The English touts are not alone; scalpers have arrived in Beijing from various regions, including France, Africa and Australia. Chinese scalpers are also doing much business, despite being threatened by a spell in the notorious labor camps.
The video below from the Daily Telegraph newspaper shows scalpers working the Olympic Park.
Olympics security chief, Liu Shaowu, has been reassuring the public that the trade in secondary tickets will be stopped, saying “All countries that have hosted the Olympic Games have had problems with scalping. We have noted that there are some people who have engaged in this sort of criminal activity and we are taking action against them.” Lui made this statement as scalpers peddled their wares less than a quarter-mile away. The scalpers are wary of police, given the warnings, but many claim to have bribed policemen into turning a blind eye.
Last Updated on May 26, 2009 by By Ian Hough