ST. PETERSBURG, May 28. /TASS/. About 60,000 Chinese fans have said they want to attend matches of the 2018 FIFA World Cup that Russia hosts in July-August, the chairman of the Russian-Chinese Tourism Promotion Association’s council, Yuri Tsurkan, told TASS on Monday.
"We haven’t expected that China, whose team is not going to the championship, will demonstrate such strong interest. According to our association, it is about 60,000 to 70,000 [fans]," Tsurkan said.
He also stressed that the number of tourists from China who will visit Russia during the World Cup "has exceeded all expectations". However, Tsurkan noted that as the sales of tickets for football matches are personified, tour operators cannot arrange organized tours to matches for the Chinese fans. That is the exact number of Chinese nationals attending the matches will be clear only after the end of the FIFA World Cup.
Pyotr Ivanov, the director general of the Federal Passenger Company that organized free train rides for fans between the cities hosting the tournament, said at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum last week that the company was registering an increased booking demand from Chinese fans. He said most of the 444,000 free tickets have been booked by Russian fans. Colombian fans came second, followed by Argentinian fans, while Chinese fans were the sixth as to the number of bookings.
The matches of the 2018 World Cup will be held between June 14 and July 15 at 12 stadiums located in the 11 above-mentioned cities across Russia. Two of the stadiums are located in the Russian capital. The Chinese national team will not take part as it failed to qualify.