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Posted: Wednesday June 20, 2012 1:52PM ; Updated: Wednesday June 20, 2012 5:52PM

London Olympic organizers to auction off torches

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LONDON (AP) Want to buy the torch that soccer star David Beckham used to light the celebratory cauldron that kicked off the relay for the London Olympics?

It can be yours!

The auction is on - but it's not on eBay. Not to be outdone by runners turning to the popular auction site to sell their torches, London's Olympic organizers are running an auction of their own. Bidding closes July 4.

Some 8,000 people are taking part in the 8,000-mile (12,875-kilometer) torch relay around Britain and Ireland.

Each gets the option of keeping their torch - provided they can ante up the 199 pound ($312) cost. Organizers say that is a discounted rate.

So far, 11 people have decided to hand their torch back.

Proceeds from sales on the auction site will subsidize the cost of the torches and contribute to the staging of the London games, which take place from July 27 to Aug. 12.

The plan drew some criticism from those who claimed it smacked of over-commercialization.

London organizing chairman Sebastian Coe defended the program.

"My instinct on this is we've done lots of things with this torch which have been different," he told The Associated Press. "I think we've engaged with communities in an extraordinary way. Some of the things come with a cost. We are, where we possibly can, trying to cover our costs."

Copyright 2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

 
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