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Originally published Sunday, July 15, 2012 at 9:00 PM

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Olympic torches hot auction item as Summer Games near

CNN reported at least six torches have been sold on the major auction site eBay since the start of the relay May 19, with all going for at least $150,000,

The Yomiuri Shimbun

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LONDON — As the July 27 opening of the London Olympic Games approaches, an increasing number of torchbearers are selling their used torches in Internet auctions for more than $100,000.

The London Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games has fueled the fire, with about 50 used torches up for auction on its official website.

The gold-colored torches, 31.5 inches long and weighing about 1.8 pounds, are made of aluminum. The Olympic flame will ultimately be carried by 8,000 torchbearers over an 8,000-mile relay.

Bearers were chosen from people recommended by sports organizations, local communities and others. Torchbearers can buy their torches for about $300 after they finish their run.

CNN reported at least six torches have been sold on the major auction site eBay since the start of the relay May 19, with all going for at least $150,000, it said. Most of the torches were auctioned to raise money for charity, but there have been reports of trouble involving the sales.

Horticultural expert Sarah Simonds, 39, tried to sell the torch she carried May 21 to raise money for children in impoverished communities. It attracted about 200,000 bids, the highest of which was about $238,260, but payment was not made.

Rick Clement, a 32-year-old former British Army sergeant who lost both legs to a mine in Afghanistan, put up for auction a torch he carried in a wheelchair, to raise money for the disabled.

Although the torch attracted many bids, Clement withdrew it from the auction Wednesday, saying he was sorry but had changed his mind.

He now plans to auction the torch at a charity event in November.

The Olympics initially distanced itself from torch sales, saying it was up to torchbearers whether to sell them.

But the organizer put some torches that bearers did not buy up for auction on its website June 20, to cover the Games' operating costs.

One of the torches put up for sale was carried by former England soccer captain David Beckham; it sold for more than $20,185.

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