It was meant to be a chance for ordinary people across Britain to inspire others with the Olympic spirit. However, one of the torchbearers who carried the Olympic flame on its first day in Britain appears to have been more inspired by the entrepreneurial spirit, and wasted no time in putting their torch up for sale on eBay.
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.
They were intended to be keepsakes of a once-in-a-lifetime moment, but instead could turn out be a nice little earner. Several Olympic torches and official uniforms have been listed for sale on eBay, with one attracting bids of more than £150,000 – although it was unclear whether that had been artificially inflated by fake bids.
A second was listed at £70,000 and another at £9,100. London 2012 organisers have said they are powerless to stop torchbearers selling the items at a profit on internet auction sites.
A spokeswoman said: “The majority of people will want to keep their torch, but ultimately it’s their property and for them to decide what to do with it.”
One seller wrote: “I am running in the Olympic Torch Relay in Carlisle on 20th June 2012 and will have the Official Olympic Torch and Official Olympic Torch Stand for sale. This is a 100% genuine Torch and Stand which will be posted at the first available postage date after I have received the torch following the run on June 20th.
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.