China's Olympic ticketing system crashes on first day

Ticket sales for the Beijing Olympics got off to a rough start this week when the ticketing system crashed under a rush of buyers.

The Beijing Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games' (BOCOG's) plans for a "high-tech" 2008 Olympics got off to a rocky start last week, when the online ticketing system for the games crashed under a crush of visitors shortly after tickets went on sale to the general public.

BOCOG's ticketing site received 8 million page views during the first hour of ticket sales October 30, with an average of 200,000 ticket requests hitting the system every minute, BOCOG said in a statement. In addition, more than 3.8 million telephone calls flooded the sales hotline as fans tried to book tickets for the games.

"Because of the overwhelming volume of page visits, the technical system was unable to perform the tasks well enough, and many applicants were unable to successfully submit their applications," BOCOG said.

After two hours of operating, only 9,000 tickets had been sold, the organizers said in a second statement, admonishing users not to overwhelm the system.

"The BOCOG Ticketing Center advises ticket buyers to be patient and reminds online buyers to refrain from clicking on the same page repeatedly, which might add to the present traffic jam online," it said.

The ticketing system was taken offline for several hours during the afternoon of October 30, while IT staff tried to reconfigure the system before bringing it back online at 5 p.m. When the system was finally taken offline at 6 p.m., a total of 43,000 tickets had been sold -- 90 percent of which had been sold online, BOCOG said.

At a press conference, BOCOG officials said the ticketing system had been designed to handle 1 million visits per hour and 150,000 ticket requests per minute, far less than it actually received. The ticketing system simply could not cope, they said, promising to announce a revamped ticketing plan November 5.

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Sumner Lemon

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