Home>News Center>China

They like Mike... too much
By Yu Yilei (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-05-19 22:48

It was supposed to be the coming of Jordan in Beijing.

Chinese fans of the retired American basketball superstar Michael Jordan, who wanted a glimpse of the idol in his first public appearance got a unpleasant surprise: Police cancelled the event out of security concerns.

The NBA legend -- thought by many to be the greatest player to ever take the court -- arrived in China on Monday. He was supposed to appear at Dongdan Stadium yesterday for a charity function at the Nike Basketball Park.

Thousands of fans crowded the site by early morning. Row upon row of them were middle school students holding huge Jordan posters. Some stood outside the stadium and climbed a fence that encloses the facility to get a clearer view of the basketball legend.

Chinese fans of NBA superstar Michael Jordan gather at a fence in downtown Beijing to catch a glimpse of the former Chicago Bulls player who was to attend a sporting ceremony May 19, 2004. More fans than expected showed up for the event, destroying flower beds and damaging a car that many climbed atop in an anticipation to get a view of Jordan. Police finally decided to cancel the event for security concerns. [newsphoto]

Flower beds were destroyed, and a car was damaged when enthusiastic fans stood atop it. Several billboards, blocking fans' view of the event were ripped down as the time of Jordan's expected appearance came closer.

That's when police decided to pull the plug, cancelling the appearance, with authorities saying they feared potential disorder.

But the cancellation only angered the fans, with many shouting Jordan's name in unison.

Jordan's China tour will continue today, with his disappointed followers still eager to catch a glimpse of their hero.

Fans upset over Jordan no-show

The Beijing Dongdan Sports Centre was left in a mess Wednesday -- flowers were stepped on, a car was damaged, a sidewalk was blocked...

That chaos made Michael Jordan's first public appearance in Beijing of his 2004 Asian Tour into a no-show. Local police cancelled a donation ceremony for the Nike Basketball Park in the centre where Jordan was supposed to meet Chinese fans due to security concerns, making for a heart-breaking day for fans who wanted to catch a glimpse of the basketball legend.

Although he retired last year, Jordan is still hugely popular for hoop fans all over the world. His first tour of China will test his popularity among Chinese fans.

As early as 7 am Wednesday, three hours before the scheduled time, the centre's basketball courts were surrounded by hundreds of young people, who were waiting to see Jordan.

"I'm here to see him, the basketball god in my heart,'' said a 14-year-old Jordan fan wearing the jersey with the legendary No 23. "Seeing him by myself once is worth getting up as early as five in the morning.''

An hour later some teenagers started to climb up to the top of the high enclosed fence that surrounds the basketball courts, where the ceremony was set to take place, to get a better view of the superstar. The rest of the fans were crowded layer upon layer outside the enclosure.

Some of them began to rip down advertising billboards that were blocking their view.

Holding huge posters of Jordan outside the stadium, the fanatical crowds were shouting Jordan's name loudly when the organizers declared that the basketball legend would arrive in 10 minutes.

But the potential danger of the chaos outside the stadium frightened the police and led to the event being cancelled.

"We have to ensure the security of all these fans,'' said one of the police officials. "Nobody knows what will happen if Jordan shows up here.''

But the fans were deeply hurt.

"I'm so disappointed,'' said a young boy. "Only a glimpse of him would have been enough, but I saw nothing after a long wait.''

"I don't want to miss such a precious opportunity to see my idol with my own eyes,'' said another fan. "I still hope to get a chance to see him before he leaves.''

Long after the cancellation of the event, there were still hundreds of upset fans gathered outside the stadium and even at the gate of the St. Regis Hotel, where Jordan is staying, to express their eagerness of seeing their favourite.

Long wait

Since arriving in Beijing late Monday, Jordan has kept his schedule in China a secret to avoid scrutiny from the media and fans alike.

Most of people have only seen him on the CCTV news when he met with Yuan Weimin, director of the State General Administration of Sports Wednesday, which was far from enough to meet their hopes of meeting Jordan themselves.

Only a few lucky fans saw Jordan Wednesday afternoon when he visited the Great Wall.

Some fans even broke into tears while seeing Jordan for the first time.

"It is the happiest time in my life,'' said an excited fan. "I still don't know if I'm in a dream now.''

Today, Jordan will continue his China tour with a press conference in the morning and presenting awards at the 2004 China High School Basketball League Final in the afternoon.

  Today's Top News     Top China News

Authorities to monitor price shifts before rate decision



Experts: Mainland has seen through Chen



Beijing to open RMB business to foreign banks



Report: Trade firms face more barriers



China can feed its own people



IMF: China's GDP ranks No.7


  Olympic flame to be in Beijing in June
  Authorities to monitor price shifts before rate decision
  Report: Trade firms face more barriers
  Mine blasts in Shanxi kill 21, injure 1
  New spinal surgery technique invented
  Metropolis to expand rail transport networks
  Go to Another Section  
  Story Tools  
  News Talk  
  When will china have direct elections?