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Olympic treasure up for auction

MORE than 20 Beijing Olympics memorabilia items, from an autographed torch to a barbell that was kissed by a Chinese weight-lifting champion, will go under the hammer next month to commemorate the first anniversary of the Games, a state auctioneer said yesterday.

Other items that will go on the auction block on August 8 included inflatable boats that carried judges and the media during sailing events, the China Beijing Equity Exchange said on its Website.

China invested more than US$40 billion on new venues and infrastructure for last year's Olympics.

Beijing Games organizers have said they made a profit out of hosting the event, excluding infrastructure spending.

The 290-kilogram barbell in the auction was the one that China's Zhang Xiangxiang knelt down and kissed after grabbing the gold medal in the men's 62-kilogram division, the company said.

Also on auction were an Olympic torch autographed by former International Olympic Committee President Juan Antonio Samaranch and torches from nine previous Games, said the state company appointed by Games organizers to dispose of assets.

VIP furniture

Among the items are a huge rehearsal canvas for the opening ceremony, on which dancers and children drew the sun, the moon, mountains and rivers, and furniture from the Games' VIP rooms.

All items are on show at the CBEX venue in downtown Beijing until auction eve, except for the boat which remains at the Olympic sailing venue in Qingdao in Shandong Province.

"These articles, as an important part of the Olympic heritage, attracted wide attention of the media and bore the spirit of Olympic Games with touching stories" the firm said.

The sale will be held at the company's auction venue in Beijing and be linked with 13 other cities, including Shanghai, as well as on a Website.

The company has collected 189 million yuan (US$27.66 million) by auctioning off 700,000 Olympic items in the past year.


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