The April 25 earthquake in Nepal and daily tariff may have deterred them

World cup: Of the 2,000 anticipated Chinese supporters only around 200-300 Chinese are now expected for the first Bhutan-China game to be held at Changlimithang tomorrow.

More than 80 percent of the Chinese supporters who had reserved tickets for the match with local tour operators have cancelled their trip.

Choki, the general manager of Happiness Kingdom, one of the local tour operators in the country said that they had bought 300 tickets from the Bhutan Football Federation (BFF) for the game. “We couldn’t sell a single ticket since all of the reservations were cancelled by the Chinese,” he said.

Although the reasons for the cancellation are not confirmed Choki said that the recent earthquakes in Nepal might be the cause. He said another reason could also be the daily tariff of USD 200 (off season) and USD 250 during peak season.

“Most of them who had booked the tickets through our agency were football fans and not tourists. It might have been a little expensive for them to pay the USD 200,” Choki said.

BFF sold the tickets (category one) to the tour operators for USD 50. Happiness Kingdom is now selling the tickets at UDS 25 for other tourists in the country and for the locals at Nu 1,600. “Since the tickets are non-refundable we’re trying to sell it off but no one has come to buy it yet,” Choki said. “We are suffering a loss of almost ngultrum one million.”

BFF printed a total of 10,000 tickets for the match against China. According to the FIFA rules and regulation 20 percent of the total tickets were to be kept for the visiting team supporters. BFF’s general secretary Ugyen Wangchhuk said that out of the 2,000 tickets only around 450 were taken by the tour operators.

Ugyen Wangchhuk said that the remaining category one tickets might be sold at the category two rates (Nu 300) since no tourists are coming out to buy the tickets. The final decision on the tickets will be made today after a meeting among the BFF officials.

The details on the number of tickets sold will also be out today.

Meanwhile, the Chinese team which is known in China as Team Dragons arrived in the country, yesterday. The team had their first practice session in the evening yesterday at the Chang Jiji football ground. Around 49 Chinese players including officials, media, and cooks have come for the second game of the World Cup qualifiers.

By Younten Tshedup