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Elton John cancels HK handover shows

HONG KONG, Feb. 14 -- British pop star Elton John has canceled the two outdoor concerts he was planning to hold during Hong Kong's last weekend as a British colony. Reports said Friday the colorful singer in broad spectacles scrapped the shows at Hong Kong Stadium after he was told he would have to keep the noise down.

John's decision comes just days after city officials suggested fans listen to the shows through headphones. Governor Chris Patten, a fan of the singer-songwriter, was said to have been very disappointed by the decision. Concerts at the 40,000-seat stadium, which has been at the center of controversy in the past, cannot exceed 70 decibels during the day and 65 decibels at night, unless the performer obtains a waiver. But when the government informally polled lawmakers about their views on the June 28-29 shows, none was prepared to approve the noise exemptoin. 'It's very surprising and a little sad,' the governor's spokesman, Kerry McGlynn said. 'We thought an Elton John concert at that particular time would have been quite an event. It will be difficult to explain to the rest of the world.' John, 49, also turned down an offer of two alternative venues -- the Hong Kong Coliseum and a reclamation site where the British military had been headquartered. Two years ago, officials tried to muffle applause noise at a local Chinese pop concert by issuing and requiring that fans wear white gloves at the stadium. The stadium is on Hong Kong Island and situated in a valley that is surrounded by luxury housing blocks. ---

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Copyright 1997 by United Press International. All Rights Reserved. ---

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