London Spy

London 2012 torch for sale on eBay

London Spy

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One of the first participants in the London Olympic relay tried to make a quick profit by selling his torch and uniform on eBay within hours of the 70-day event starting.

The unnamed seller's location was given as Probus in Cornwall, the south-west English county where the relay had started in the morning after the flame was flown in from Greece on Friday.

The Sun named the seller as Andrew Bell, who finished his leg of the relay in Marazion. He was nominated for the relay as a result of his coaching and fundraising efforts for a local rowing club.

He told the paper that the torch - pictured with triple Olympic yachting gold medallist Ben Ainslie - looks "weird" in his home and said he needed the money.

"I understand some people may find the idea of selling an Olympic torch offensive but we could genuinely use the money," he said.

"Without giving you a sob story, we've a lovely baby boy and my wife has just gone back to work after maternity leave.

"Also, the torch is nearly a metre long and looks weird on the mantelpiece."

Put on sale at midday, the items had attracted 24 bids by 5.30pm with the price soaring above £3,000.

However a raft of what appeared to be fake bids sent the figure to £50,000 and Bell ended the auction early shortly after 6pm, cancelling all bids.

Some of the bearers nominated by the relay sponsors have been allowed to keep their triangular-shaped torches, made of gold-coloured aluminium and perforated with 8,000 holes, at no cost while others have been asked to pay for theirs.

Several other torches have since been listed on the auction website, most of them in advance of the people taking part in the relay.

Organisers LOCOG had set a cost for their nominees of £199 if paid for before May 1 and £215 thereafter. They said they are actually worth £495.

"The torch and uniform are the torchbearer's to do what they want with, we hope they find a good home," said a London 2012 spokesperson when asked about the eBay sale.

Some 90 per cent of the torchbearers were nominated through public campaigns, with the emphasis on rewarding local heroes and those who have made a difference to the communities in which they live, and the rest selected by invitation.

Banners and publicity emphasise it as the "Moment to Shine".

The relay started at Land's End on the south-west tip of England just after 7am with Ainslie handed the honour of completing the first 300 metres.

Some 8,000 people are due to take part in the relay around Britain and into Ireland before the cauldron is lit at the opening ceremony on July 27.

One seller jokingly listed 'Not a London 2012 Olympic Torch' with the following description:

"I don't have an Olympic torch or uniform and, to be honest, couldn't give a monkeys about the Olympics.

"However, I am skint and as the whole thing appears to be coming out of my taxes, I wouldn't mind a bit of cash back.

"Therefore, please only bid if you are willing to give me some money and get nothing in return except good feedback and a warm feeling having done a good deed.

"Remember, you are bidding to be the person that gives me some money and will get nothing in return except my thanks. Paypal only please. Non payers will be hunted down and made to watch repeats of the X Factor for 24 hours non stop."

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