70 police officers to guard one little flame might seem excessive, but the seven and a half thousand Olympic torch bearers still to run will no doubt be glad of the protection, after it has emerged that the torches they will carry have a street value of more than £100,000.
The flame hadn’t even arrived at its first overnight destination on Saturday before the torches appeared on eBay. The first sold this evening for £111,655, with more than forty available, their starting prices ranging from £1,000 to up to £150,000.
The sales have attracted considerable ire, given the torchbearers were chosen from thousands of nominations, on the basis of their selflessness and community spirit.
Each torchbearer is issued with their own torch and uniform, and can choose to purchase them for £295.
Locog said in a statement that “The torch and uniform are the torchbearer's to do what they want with, we hope they find a good home.”
One torchbearer, Paul James, said he had put his torch up for sale in order to raise money for the charity he volunteers with, Mencap.
The flame made its way through Devon today from Plymouth to Exeter, through Dartmouth, Totnes, Paignton and the Torre Abbey in Torquay.
Huge crowds greeted it, yet again, though some gave only qualified praise.
“They’ve got ten people running through Dartmouth,” said Paul Grant, a plumber, waiting for the torch to make its way around the town’s famous harbour. “Only two of them are local. They’ve got one from Bristol, they’ve even got a Frenchman doing it. Well, he might be from the Channel Islands, I don’t know.”
At the torch’s lunchtime stopover at the Britannia Royal Naval College in Dartmouth, where Princes Philip, Charles and William have all served as naval cadets, it was treated to a “zumba” demonstration in the neighbouring park, the latest in an ever lengthening list of eccentricities to which the little flame will bear witness over the next 68 days.