6.8 million tickets for Beijing Olympics nearly gone

Ticketmaster president Jonathan Krane, whose company is the official ticket provider for the Beijing Olympics, is predicting a sellout for the Summer Games, which run Aug. 8-24.

2004 Athens Games sold only about two-thirds of 5.3 million available tickets

For a change, there probably won't be an empty seat at the Summer Olympics, even for the less-popular sports.

Ticketmaster president Jonathan Krane, whose company is the official ticket provider for the event, is anticipating a sellout for the Beijing Games, which run Aug. 8-24.

"We predict that this will be the first Olympics that is a 'sold out' Olympics," Krane said in an interview Friday from Shanghai.

Some sports, like basketball, are surefire sellers while others, like modern pentathlon and team handball, are less popular.

The 2004 Athens Olympics sold only about two-thirds of 5.3 million tickets. A whopping 6.8 million tickets were made available for Beijing.

China, with its population of 1.3 billion, many of whom are full-fledged sports fanatics, has an obvious advantage over some other host countries.

"Certain events are always sold out during the Olympics, but I think that to have every event sold out, that's something that's very positive, and it doesn't always happen," said Krane.

Earlier this month, Olympics organizers announced that domestic-sale tickets for events in Beijing were sold out. Tickets for some events in other cities, such as soccer tournaments in Shanghai and equestrian events in Hong Kong, were still available.

Beijing's Olympics ticketing got off to a rocky start last fall when the computer system meant to handle it crashed, forcing organizers to revert to a lottery system to sell tickets.

Organizers reported 27 million hits in a one-hour period during the last round of online domestic ticket sales, but the system held up.

Overall, the Beijing Games will generate about nine million tickets, but a large chunk of those is set aside for the International Olympic Committee, sponsors, dignitaries and TV broadcasters — reducing the total available to the public.

The Beijing organizing committee has said some tickets will likely still be available at ticket booths around sports venues during the Games.

With files from the Associated Press