Olympic souvenir collectors have a ball

Beijing, Aug 28 | Updated: Aug 29 2008, 05:39am hrs
If you are a Olympic-crazy memorabilia collector with deep pockets, you could go in for NBA star Yao Mings giant bed or the ancient Chinese drums used in the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics.

Media reports say Yaos 2.6-m-long bed in the Olympic Village could fetch up to 2 million yuan ($292,000). Authorities had made a special bed for Yao, with the Houston Rockets, who is 7 feet 6 inches-tall.

The drums, called fou, however, could come cheaper and definitely easier to get because there are 2,008 of them, and as many umbrellas, each of which comes with a smiling face.

More than 20 million Games memorabilia will soon be put under the hammer, and anybody can bid for them. The auction is estimated to fetch about 1 billion yuan ($146 million).

Information on the auction will be posted on ina Beijing Equity Exchanges (CBEX) website (www.cbex.com.cn) soon.

A CBEX manager said the Beijing Olympics organising committee (BOCOG) has authorised it to sell the items after September 17, that is, after the end of the Paralympic Games.

On some popular auction websites, the bidding for star athletes belongings has already heated up. The bid for the pair of sneakers, mens badminton gold medallist Lin Dan threw into the crowd, has risen to 3 million yuan ($439,000), China Daily reported.

And the signatures of Yang Wei, who won the mens all-around gymnastics gold, and his team-mates are going for 10,000 yuan on a popular website. The CBEX manager said, Every piece of item listed online (for the official auction) will have an accompanying photograph and the contact number of its keeper. This is not the first time that Games organisers are auctioning such memorabilia but it is definitely the biggest.