BEIJING (AP) — There are many disadvantages to working inside the hermetically sealed “closed loop” at the Beijing Olympics. The “bubble” separates reporters, athletes and Olympic staff from the real Beijing public, giving access only to venues, the media center, or the hotel.
But if you're shopping for souvenirs, it’s the place to be.
That’s because the coveted fluffy Olympic panda mascot — named Bing Dwen Dwen — is in short supply everywhere around Beijing, but available in limited quantities inside the souvenir shop at the media center.
“It’s harder to buy the souvenirs outside the loop because there are more people and some will get into the line in the middle of the night in order to buy souvenirs,” Meng Qingpeng explained.
Meng, who is working at the speedskating venue, said he lined up at 9 a.m. outside the souvenir shop. By 2 p.m. he'd made it into another line — this one about about 50 meters (yards) away at a post office set up for shoppers to mail gifts from inside the bubble to the outside world.
He said he hoped to be done by 4 and enjoy a late lunch.
Meng stood alongside four green-and brown cardboard boxes. He said he'd landed one mascot, T-shirts, caps, bags and other Olympic items.
He was not alone. At least 50 others were in the twisting line, leaning on boxes, bending down to address packages, or waiting to have boxes sealed shut.
“Before the opening ceremony last week, there were not many people in the shops,” Meng said. “These souvenirs got popular in one night.”
And the key question: Are you going to resell this stuff?
“No,” he said. “Not for resale. This shows my good heart for friends, and to get something for my parents."
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