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Last Updated: Monday, 5 November 2007, 17:16 GMT
Lottery for new Olympics tickets
Man waving Beijing 2008 flag. File photo
China will eventually sell seven million tickets for the Games
The next batch of tickets for the 2008 Beijing Olympics will be sold using a lottery system, the organising committee has announced.

The move follows the breakdown of Beijing's first-come, first-served ticketing website last week.

The site was unable to cope with the enormous demand for tickets.

Chinese buyers will be able to register for the new lottery system between 10 and 30 December and tickets will be assigned to them at random.

Overseas sales

Tickets for the Olympics first went on sale in April 2007, when a lottery system was also used.

The first phase went smoothly, and 1.6m tickets were sold.

The second batch of 1.8m tickets was scheduled to be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis, with tickets available through an official website, special phone lines and from participating banks.

Customers queue up to buy Olympic tickets at a branch of Bank of China in Fuyang on Tuesday
Eager customers earlier queued at bank branches around the country

However, when the online booking system received more than eight million hits in the first hour of sale on 30 October, the ticketing site crashed.

The site only had the capacity to handle one million hits and 150,000 sales in an hour.

Calls to the phone line also exceeded expectations: more than 3.8 million people called in the first hour, and many more were unable to get through.

Organisers will now revert to the tried-and-tested lottery system "in the interests of fairness and for everyone's convenience", according to a statement released by the Beijing Olympics Organising Committee (Bocog).

There will be a limit on how many tickets any one individual can request.

The authorities have yet to announce the date on which the successful applicants will be chosen.

The first two batches of tickets were available only to Chinese residents. People living outside China will get their first chance to buy tickets in April 2008.

China will eventually sell about seven million tickets to the Games in three phases, with about three-quarters going to people living in China and the rest to overseas buyers.

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