BEIJING - Thousands of fans who had waited for up to two days swarmed sales windows yesterday for the final batch of tickets to next month's Olympic Games, knocking people to the ground and bending metal barricades in the crush.
Witnesses said scuffles broke out at one ticket site as officials opened additional sales windows at the last minute, causing some fans to race ahead of others in a bid to buy some of the 250,000 tickets that went on sale in different parts of the host city.
"It was so unfair," said Ji Liqiang, who waited for 28 hours with Wang Zhenqiang, a fellow businessman from eastern Shandong province, for a chance to buy tickets to the diving competition.
"Those who came late but were able to push forward got the tickets," he said.
The two lost their place in line in the scramble and ended up with tickets to the synchronized swimming instead of the diving events, in which China is a gold-medal favorite. "It was very dangerous. I was afraid," Wang said. "People got hurt around me. They fell and injured their knees and elbows."
Zhang Xiaojing, 17, who came from Hebei province with her cousin and three friends, said the line was fairly orderly when she arrived Thursday afternoon. But during yesterday's rush, only three of her friends were able to get close enough to be in a position to buy tickets.
The official Xinhua News Agency said 30,000 people lined up for tickets, but muggy weather with temperatures above 93 degrees Fahrenheit coupled with the long wait made people impatient. Police immediately took steps to maintain order, including limiting access to some areas, it said.