Sports / Olympic News Updates

Student digs for gold with torch

By Reuters (China Daily) Updated: 2016-08-06 07:42

An enterprising Brazilian college student has found a way to make money off one of the torches used to carry the Olympic flame toward Rio de Janeiro: get tourists to pose with it for pictures.

Reinaldo Maia, 27, bought the torch online, one of several offered for sale by people who took part in the relay or somehow acquired one during the flame's three-month journey across Brazil, where the Olympics open on Friday.

At 6,000 reais ($1,880), the price seemed exorbitant, but Maia wanted one as a souvenir of the first-ever Games in South America and he had a plan to recoup his investment.

Early on Thursday, Maia headed to Copacabana, the scenic Rio beachfront where many Olympic events will take place and where tourists in town for the Games have been strolling the sunny promenade.

Positioning himself strategically next to a popular sculpture of the five Olympic rings, he started charging passersby 5 reais for a snapshot with the torch. Within three hours, he made 500 reais - one twelfth his initial investment.

"I think it's going to work out," he said, in between transactions. "I've already had people from France, the US, Japan - the world over."

As many as 500,000 foreigners are expected in Rio by the time the Games end Aug 21.

Maia, who hopes to get a job in the oil industry after college, said he purchased his torch from a carrier who ran with the flame in Resende, a small city south of Rio. The seller initially wanted 8,000 reais but Maia talked him down.

Several other torches were available online, he said, some for as much as 20,000 reais.

Those who take part in the relay have the option of buying the torch they carry, at a price of 1,997 reais. Others, as guests of sponsors, have received torches as gifts.

(China Daily 08/06/2016 page12)

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