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Friday, Aug. 15, 2008

BEIJING POSTCARD

Even media needs tickets for swimming finals


Staff Writer

BEIJING — Don't be surprised by this fact: The IOC referred to the Opening Ceremony, Closing Ceremony and swimming finals as "high-demand" events in various news releases. A fellow named Michael Phelps created that demand for the swimming events.

So what exactly did this mean for the media?

Well, in addition to having an Olympic media credential, reporters are required to obtain an event ticket from their NOC (National Olympic Committee). And so I visited the Japan Olympic Committee office on the second floor of the Main Press Center last week, leaving the room with a coveted ticket for the Opening Ceremony.

That ticket felt like ¥1 billion when I held it in my hands; it now feels like ¥10 billion, having had a chance to witness one of the greatest shows in the history of mankind.

A limited number of tickets have been distributed by the IOC to each NOC for the swimming finals. The exact number is one I'm uncertain of at this point.

Anyway, the IOC's backup plan is for media members to visit the IOC ticketing office each day at 6 p.m. and see if any tickets have suddenly become available by media members who change their plans and opt to cover something else — call it a long shot at best.

I was unable to get a ticket for Monday morning's swimming finals, which meant I had to watch Kosuke Kitajima's gold medal-winning performance in the 100-meter breaststroke on a giant flat screen TV in the press center.

There are worse ways to spend a Monday morning.

I can't say, however, I was thrilled to be shut out of the Water Cube for that historic accomplishment.

I received an e-mail on Monday afternoon from Koji Kawasaki of the JOC informing me someone had returned a ticket and he had one for me for Tuesday's finals. Another ticket was available for Thursday's session, but not for Wednesday's.

Thanks, Kawasaki-san.



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