Final tickets for Olympic equestrian events go on sale in Hong Kong

The final batch of tickets for this summer's Olympic equestrian events to be held in Hong Kong will go on sale Thursday, officials confirmed Wednesday, the dpa reported.

Around 60,000 tickets allocated to Hong Kong will go on sale at prices ranging from 58 Hong Kong dollars (7.5 US) for the less popular dressage events to 544 dollars (70 US) for the jumping finals.

The cheap tickets are comparable to prices at previous Olympic Games. However, they are still pricier than tickets for events in Beijing which are as low as 30 yuan (4.2 US dollars) or 10 yuan (1.4 US dollars) for students.

Chief Executive Officer of the Equestrian Company Lam Woon-kwong said all of the 40,000-odd tickets for the equestrian events allocated to Hong Kong in the first two ticketing phases had been sold.

There are a total of about 200,000 tickets for sale in Hong Kong, mainland China and overseas for the event which takes place from August 9 to 21 at Sha Tin and Beas River.

The former British colony has spent more than 4 million US dollars promoting the event worldwide.

However, a report last month suggested the event would stop tourists coming to the city. The South China Morning Post quoted hoteliers saying that advance bookings for August indicate occupancy of only 50 per cent.

Michael Lee of the Federation of Hong Kong Hotel Owners said he believed that only 3,000 to 5,000 people would come to Hong Kong specifically to watch the equestrian events - a tiny number in a city that attracts some 30 million visitors a year.

Hong Kong Tourism Board chairman James Tien said tourists normally stayed away from Olympic host cities to avoid crowds, as they did in Sydney in 2000 and again in Athens in 2004.

The staging of the equestrian events in Hong Kong has caused some controversy with the Swiss dressage team pulling out, saying the humid, smoggy conditions in the city of 6.9 million may be harmful to horses.

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