Special bank notes build on Olympic zest in HK

2008-07-16 08:55:54 GMT       2008-07-16 16:55:54 (Beijing Time)       Xinhua English

HONG KONG, July 16 (Xinhua) -- The Bank of China (Hong Kong) on Wednesday officially released the special HK dollar bank notes commemorating the upcoming Beijing Olympics, building on the expanding sports zest in the Olympic co-host city.

Many holders of previously issued purchase passes gathered again in front of the landmark Bank of China Tower in Central, Hong Kong, shortly after daybreak on Wednesday in hopes of touching what they wanted as early as possible.

"I am very, very happy, and a bit nervous because there are so many journalists," said a woman surnamed Lai, the lucky first one to get the bank note packages. "I am a private collector. I wouldn't trade it for even 100,000 dollars."

BOC Hong Kong were selling 4 million pieces of 20-HK-dollar Olympic bank notes, or 3.14 million items, including some multiple-in-1 packages. Buyers in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region would get 2.93 million items, and the rest went to the Macao Special Administrative Region and other places outside the mainland.

Special packages, however, were only a minor part of the total, with only 20,000 items of the 35-in-1 uncut notes and similar figures for other packages, pushing the market prices for the packages to more than double their official release prices.

Queuing had started in Hong Kong as early as Monday afternoon, more than one day ahead of the notes' official release. Hundreds held on until late Monday when thunderstorms forced BOC Hong Kong to register those queuing in the lines.

Most of the queuers got purchasing passes on Tuesday afternoon.

Still many more joined the lines Tuesday and some on Wednesday, although the bank announced late Tuesday they had run out of passes for three of the five categories and that they would continue issuing purchasing passes for later days of July.

About 100 people lined up in front of the Bank of China Tower overnight, and some said they were hoping to get purchases passes for the remaining packages.

Single-note items were also on offer starting from Wednesday at BOC Hong Kong offices in Hong Kong, although the queuing lines were much shorter.

BOC Hong Kong unveiled the special note last week. The front features a picture of a plinth, the Beijing 2008 logo and the Bank of China tower in Hong Kong. On the reverse is the image of the Beijing Olympic stadium, also known as the "Bird's Nest".

Some of the buyers said they were hoping to make a profit by reselling the notes, while others said they would keep them as souvenirs commemorating the Olympic Games.

"I bought all the five categories of note packages as part of my private collection. I am interested because it carries a lot of history. It is the first time ever that China will host the Olympic Games," said a youth surnamed Chan.

I have comments _COUNT_