22 May 2012
The Olympic torch relay continues its journey around Britain with a host of sporting stars queuing up to carry the torch. It is a great honour to be chosen to carry the flame, though some have seen it as an opportunity to make money too.
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It's not quite in the Olympic spirit. Before day one of the torch relay was completed, one of the golden symbols appeared for sale online. A torch used on day one is currently attracting bids on the internet auction site, eBay, in excess of $79,000. According to the seller the money will go to regional charities. But what's to stop participants cashing in and pocketing the money themselves? Julia Immonen was awarded her relay place after rowing across the Atlantic with a team of women. She says she can't understand why anyone would want to sell such a prestigious item.
One torch is thought to have sold for more than $237,000. Given that the participants were asked to pay just $314 to keep the torches that is quite a profit. A spokesperson for LOCOG - the Olympic organising committee - said the torches were the personal property of the individual runners and it was their choice to do with them as they wanted. She said she only hoped they went to a good home.
Compared to the controversies over the scale of commercial sponsorship for London 2012, and the control of the brand, this may be of minor concern. The torch relay is the moment when the magic and mystique of the Games touches local communities. It is a-once-in-a-lifetime experience and for most people seeing it pass by is enrichment enough.
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race in which participants run then pass an object to someone else
offers of money
- regional charities
local organisations giving money in order to help others
- a profit
- personal property
official identification or symbol