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Online auction site cashes in on Games
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Items related to gold medal winners are appearing on the Internet for auction.

The autographs of four American swimmers, including that of Michael Phelps, winner of eight gold medals, are being sold as a set on Taobao.com. The asking price: 12,000 yuan ($1,750).

The owner, a photographer, who calls himself "People yuan", managed to get the autographs during Visa's Friendship Lanes Tour of China in April last year.

"I'm not sure when the set of autographs will be sold. But it is attracting a lot of attention because of Phelps.

"I think the set will be bought eventually. I don't think the price is too high" he said.

Qiao Peilie, a press officer of Taobao.com, said: "These items are personal collections, and therefore can be sold."

Yang Yun, girlfriend of Yang Wei, the gymnast, who won two gold medals and a silver, opened a store on Taobao.com. A pair of shoes worn by Yang Wei during the Games, which originally cost 500 yuan, was pushed up to 10 million yuan yesterday by people not serious in their bids.

"Several bidders kept pushing up the price. When our staff contacted them, the price dropped," Qiao said.

"Their behavior violated auction rules." Taobao.com statistics show the sale of sporting items in the past week increased dramatically compared with the week before the Games started.

The sale of local brand name items has increased by 30 percent, far exceeding that of foreign brands registering a 9.5 percent rise.

Sportswear company Lining, in particular, has witnessed a 38 percent hike in sales since its owner Li Ning, a former champion gymnast, lit the Olympic cauldron at the opening ceremony.

(China Daily August 22, 2008)

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