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November 6, 2009

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Going, going... Games condoms

"FASTER, higher, stronger." It's not just the Olympic motto - it was also a catchphrase used on condoms distributed to athletes attending the 2008 Beijing Games.

And while many records were broken on the track, the activities in the bedroom apparently did not quite live up to Olympic expectations.

Some 5,000 of the 100,000 condoms earmarked for the Games ended up in the hands of collectors. And they have decided to auction them to the public at a starting price of 1 yuan (15 US cents) each on November 29 in Beijing. The sale will also feature other Olympics memorabilia.

Each condom is wrapped in a specially designed package bearing the words "faster, higher, stronger" in both English and Chinese.

It should come as no surprise that this will be the first mass auction of condoms in China, according to a report yesterday on People's Daily Website, which did not say where the auction would be held.

Athletes have received free condoms at Olympics since Barcelona in 1992 to help raise awareness about protection against HIV and AIDS.

The Beijing Olympic Village housed 10,500 athletes, but their families were not allowed to live with them, which may have cut into condom use.

Zhao Xiaokai, a Chinese collector of Olympic paraphernalia, told the Website that most condoms were taken home by athletes, officials and reporters as souvenirs.

That's why a supply of 70,000 ran out quickly at the Sydney Games in 2000 and Athens doubled the distribution in 2004.

The event organized by a Beijing auction house will feature several Olympic items starting at bids of 1 yuan, including a lantern designed to hold the Olympic flame at Mount Everest signed by Juan Antonio Samaranch, former president of the International Olympics Committee, and a torch with the signature of Edson Arantes do Nascimento, or the famed Pele.

At the high end, a medical kit for Chinese athletes at the 1936 Berlin Olympics will start out at 10 million yuan, the most among all the Olympic memorabilia to be auctioned.

Some overseas buyers have expressed an interest in it.


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