BEIJING, May 15 (Xinhua) -- The empty seats that hurt the festive mood of the Athens Olympics won't be seen in Beijing when the Chinese capital hosts the 2008 Games.
The final batch of Olympic tickets for domestic spectators, previously expected to be sold out in 36 days, had been snapped up within two days.
A total of 1.38 million tickets for 16 sports, including boxing, soccer, volleyball and basketball, had been put on sale since last Monday both at Bank of China branches and on the official website.
Within two days, tickets for Beijing venues were sold out, only leaving some for the soccer tournament in co-host cities Shanghai, Shenyang, Tianjin and Qinhuangdao.
An official with the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games (BOCOG) admitted that they had never expected these tickets to sell so fast.
People all over the country showed great enthusiasm in snapping up Olympic tickets. Thousands of people lined in long queues and waited outside Bank of China outlets.
A Beijing resident surnamed Liu said he had waited for four hours before getting tickets from the bank counter.
"I bought tickets for track and field finals. I want to see LiuXiang racing in the final," he said, referring to the Chinese Olympic champion and world record holder of 110 meters hurdles.
Wang Xudong, who purchased three tickets for women's soccer preliminary games, said it was a regret that he had not got the tickets for some hot games.
"Lucky for me that I have bought a ticket for the Olympics' opening ceremony and a few semifinal tickets," said Andy Lau, one of Chinese cinema's biggest stars, after he ran as the fourth torchbearer in the Hong Kong leg on May 2.
"But I feel a bit disappointed that I didn't have tickets for volleyball and diving, which are my favorite sports," he said.
"I finally get a ticket and my dream to watch the Beijing Olympic Games will come true," said Qu Zhen, a Tibetan University student, on the day when the tickets started to sell in Lhasa.
The online ticket sales went smoothly except for some small problems.
"We have made sufficient preparations for this time, including the tests of our network, our credit card operation and our system of the acceptance of purchase applications," said Xu Zheng, director of Olympic Affairs Office of Bank of China.
"The preparation work was done in a very careful way because we had lessons to learn from last year's experience."
The online system collapsed due to overwhelming demand hours after the second round of sales started last November, forcing organizers to revert to a lottery system.
"Through the ticket sales, we feel once again the passion of all the people home and abroad and their support for the Olympic Games," said Wang Hui, director of the media and communications department of the BOCOG.
However, the third and final round sale did not mean all the tickets had been sold out, said Wang. It just meant the ticket booking had ended, and people who had not got the tickets still had chance, she added.
After three rounds of ticket sales, some tickets will likely be available at ticket booths around sports venues during the Games, said an official from the ticketing department of the BOCOG.