LONDON — From the trivial and irrelevant to the inspirational and poignant, everything must go!
As Britain awakes to post-Olympic reality on Monday, sports fans may find solace in the fact that they can buy a piece of the Games on various official auction sites.
Want to buy an implement used in your favorite track and field event?
Sleep where Michael Phelps stretched his 6-foot, 4-inch frame before one of his triumphant races?
Or plug your cable into the power strip used by an Olympic athlete to charge his or her iPad or laptop?
You just may be able to do that.
Subsidizing the cost of the Games
The decision to sell off the items was made by the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) in an effort to offset the Games' hefty price tag, which ran to about $14 billion in public money. In addition, LOCOG had a smaller budget, just over $3 billion, which was raised through broadcasting rights, ticket sales and merchandising.
LOCOG said in a press release earlier this summer that the official Memorabilia.London2012.com auction's "proceeds will help subsidise the costs of the Torches to Torchbearers (torch relay) and contribute towards the staging of the Games."
Many of the torches offered for sale have been signed by athletes and celebrities.Slideshow: Olympic torch carries the flame to London 2012 (on this page)
Among the most sought-after items are torches, either whole or in fragments, used to transport the Olympic flame around Britain prior to the Opening Ceremony.
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Sebastian Coe, the chairman of LOCOG, defended the decision to sell the torches.
"I think we've done the best torch relay that I have ever witnessed and the interest is extraordinary," he said in June at the Beyond Sport award in London, according to The Telegraph.
"And yes, we've done some things that have upped the cost a bit in key areas, and this is not a bad way of helping us fund it," the newspaper quoted him as saying.
The official on-line auction also said it would offer big-ticket items like relay batons from the men's 4x 100 track and field final, balls from the beach volleyball competition and tennis balls such as those used in British gold-medalist Andy Murray’s triumph over Swiss ace Roger Federer at Wimbledon, although none of those appeared to be available Monday morning.
"The Games touched people in such a unique way, they really want a piece of that," Jon Curleigh, Director at Vancouver-based Innovative Sports Limited, the sports marketing company operating the auction, told NBC News. He added that "unprecedented numbers" were bidding for these items.
He said a team of around 80 people was working to ensure the memorabilia was for real.
"We offer an iron-clad guarantee that these items are authentic," Curleigh said.
Curleigh said Innovative Sports guaranteed authenticity through a process that included having workers on the site of the competition, taking the items from officials at venues and placing them in sealed plastic bags, and then transporting them to a secure warehouse.Slideshow: Olympic Emotional Moments (on this page)
The memorabilia also comes with anti-counterfeiting and tamper-evident features, he said.
Curleigh could not offer revenue projections because of contractual obligations, but said he expected to generate in the "millions and millions of dollars."
He noted that in previous Olympics these items would be dispersed by the various sporting bodies, but this enabled people to take home a piece of the Games.
"There was never a way for the public to access these items previously. They’ve never been available to the public before so there was no way of assessing the value. So an auction was the fairest way to do this," he said.
He also noted that the resale of such items was consistent with the London Games' message of sustainability. "This way everything finds a home. These items get a second life," he said.
The London 2012 Olympics ran from July 27 to Aug. 12. The London 2012 Paralympics will be held in the same facilities from Aug. 29 to Sept. 9.
Some of the products on Memorabilia.London2012.com clearly fall into the category of collectors' items for the sports-obsessed.
Fans can bid for the U.S. flag waved during the Opening Ceremonies; various implements used in track and field events such as a discus, hammer and javelin; judges' scoring sheets from the men's 91-kg. (200-lb,) gold-medal boxing bout; and clothing signed by Olympic athletes.Video: Race to the Olympic Park: Quickest way is ...? (on this page)
One popular item is a pair of skimpy diving trunks signed by telegenic 18-year-old British diver Tom Daley, who won bronze in the 10-meter platform.
Fans of the spectacular Opening Ceremony can also bid on a hand sickle wielded by a costumed farmer during director Danny Boyle's journey though British history, a "peasant-man's outfit" or the black handbag sported by one of the actresses depicting Mary Poppins.
Other enterprising Games fans offered bottled Olympic "atmosphere" for sale on eBay and other sites.
"So you weren't one of the lucky ones, unable to travel to London for whatever reason and soak up the exhilarating atmosphere," Reuters quoted vendor mictoria as saying.
"Well maybe a little bit of that ambiance can come to you," it said.
Still others offered to sell crumpled tissues used to wipe seats at Olympic events and empty bottles from Games events, Reuters reported.
Own Olympic light fixtures and power cables
A separate site, RemainsOfTheGames.co.uk offers fans "a chance to own fixtures, fittings and equipment used by some of the most famous sporting personalities in the world!"
Want to purchase an extension cord with a universal four-socket used by an athlete to charge his or her iPad? Yeah, RemainsOfTheGames.com has that.
A shower chair? Yes, you too can sit during your shower on the same stool upon which an Olympian once rested. And that for just around $15.
That site is operated by Australia-based Ramler Furniture, which says it also provided "end-to-end" solutions for other major sporting events including the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, the Athens 2004 Olympic Games and the Melbourne, Australia, 2006 Commonwealth Games.
"The vast majority of the products have been used in some ways, in some venue or other, during the Games," Paul Ramler, the U.K. representative of Ramler Furniture, told NBC News.
The post-Games sale was part of Ramler's contract with LOCOG, according to Ramler. In effect, Ramler had rented the items to the Olympic organizers for the Games and now was buying them back for resale to the public.
"The big difference this time is that the sale was marketed before the Games. In the past, it didn't begin until afterward," he said.
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