Citizens rush to a branch of Bank of China to order 2008 Olympic tickets in Weifang, Shandong Province, on Tuesday morning.   BEIJING, Oct. 31 - The sale of the second batch of Olympic tickets was suspended after the booking system collapsed under overwhelming demand on Tuesday, the first day tickets became available.  

The Beijing Organizing Committee for the 2008 Olympic Games (BOCOG) said Tuesday night in a statement that they had decided to temporarily halt domestic ticket sales to improve the technical plan and will announce new ticketing information on November 5.  

"Because of the overwhelming volume of page visits, the technical system was unable to perform the tasks well enough, and many applicants were unable to successfully submit their applications," said the BOCOG statement.  

"We sincerely apologize to the public," it added.  

The first-come-first-serve scheme had 1.85 million tickets on sale through the booking website, a hotline and designated branches of Bank of China.  

But demand was much higher than organizers anticipated: According to the Beijing Olympic Ticketing Center, the official ticketing website (www.tickets.beijing2008.cn) saw 8 million hits in the first hour starting 9 a.m., while the ticketing hotline received 3.8 million calls.  

Only some 9,000 tickets were sold in two hours; and the ticketing center confirmed that successful orders will be valid.  

A total of 7 million tickets are available for the Games, with about 75 percent reserved for domestic sale. The first 1.6 million tickets were allocated after a lottery earlier this year. The third phase - from April to August next year - will also sell tickets on a first-come-first-serve basis.