Beckham torch lights up auction site

LONDON Wed Jun 20, 2012 11:10am EDT

British soccer player and London 2012 Olympic Games ambassador David Beckham reacts after lighting the Olympic torch with a cauldron after arriving at RNAS Culdrose base near Helston in Cornwall, south west England May 18, 2012. REUTERS/Toby Melville

British soccer player and London 2012 Olympic Games ambassador David Beckham reacts after lighting the Olympic torch with a cauldron after arriving at RNAS Culdrose base near Helston in Cornwall, south west England May 18, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Toby Melville

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LONDON (Reuters) - An Olympic torch carried by David Beckham has attracted bids of over 1,500 pounds ($2,400) after London organizers began an online auction of Games memorabilia.

The site is expected to sell off collectors' items include a baton from the men's 4 x 100 meters relay and tennis balls from the Olympic tournament once the Games get under way on July 27.

Mindful of criticisms that the Games have become too commercial, organizers said the funds raised would help to offset the cost of the torch relay and of staging the Games themselves.

They denied that the website was set up in response to some participants selling their torches on the eBay auction website.

The web site (www.london2012.com/auction) features the torch carried by former England soccer captain Beckham when the Olympic flame arrived in Britain from Greece on May 18. As an added personal touch, it has Beckham's signature on it.

Organizers said the torches cost 500 pounds to manufacture and torchbearers involved in the relay around the British isles could buy them for a subsidized price of 199 pounds as a memento.

The ones up for sale on the web site are those not wanted by the participants or donated by celebrities like Beckham.

($1 = 0.6364 British pounds)

(Reporting by Keith Weir; Editing by Alison Wildey)

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