ODB and I walked by Workers’ Gymnasium at about 4:30pm yesterday and saw a couple hundred Hangzhou fans cheering and carrying a dragon made of yellow balloons. Later in the evening, as JZ and I tried to hail a taxi in a cold rain, it was easy to spot an inordinate amount of Hangzhou blue on sweatshirts, umbrellas, and glowing devil horns.
Currently The Beijing-Hangzhou match is less than an hour away. I’ve got the TV on but both CCTV and Beijing TV sports channels are showing boring studio talk shows for the pregame. No College Football Gameday in China yet, unfortunately. A Reuters article quoting the Beijing Youth Daily confirms my prediction of a heavy police presence, though even I didn’t expect it to be so high:
Up to 6,000 police will be on duty for Beijing Guoan’s Chinese Super League (CSL) match on Saturday, where they could seal their first title, after fans rioted on Thursday after failing to get tickets for the game….
About 10,000 fans had gathered outside the stadium on Thursday in the hope to buy tickets, but only 13,000 of the 60,000 seats in the stadium were put on sale, leaving thousands frustrated, the paper said.
I didn’t even think a riot would be possible with all the police assigned to the ticket lines. And honestly, I don’t really trust that 6,000 cops will be able to control a stadium full of fans, who will surely walk out either ecstatic or enraged.
Kickoff is now about 25 minutes away. BTV gave a minute or two to the sideline reporter and is back to the studio chat with the sappy background music; CCTV is now showing figure skating.
UPDATE: Added a pic of the riot police lined up outside Workers’ Stadium.