White Elephant’s Nest

The state-run China Daily recently reported that the iconic Bird’s Nest Stadium built for the 2008 Beijing Olympics has officially turned into a “financial albatross” for the government.

Apparently, the stadium’s managers are running out of ways to make the white elephant pay for itself.

It costs about 200,000 yuan ($29,000) a day to maintain the stadium, but in recent weeks the only events it has hosted are Formula One’s Race of Champions and movie director Zhang Yimou’s staging of Puccini’s “Turandot.”

The structure is open to visitors as a tourist site, but the number of admissions has dropped from a peak of 50,000 a day to only a “few thousand” a day, the newspaper said. The managers recently handed operations over to an unnamed state-owned financial institution.

Concerns over the Bird’s Nest have become acute even as China hosts other international sporting events.

The Asian Games, which are held every four years, will take place in Guangzhou Nov. 12-27, 2010, and the 5th East Asian Games will be held next month in Hong Kong.

Officials of the EAG have already announced that 60 percent of the tickets available for the EAG had been sold as of the second week of November.