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The tradition of trading Olympic pins began in the early days of the Olympic movement, all the way back to 1896 in Athens. In the following years, national team officials wore their Olympic pins to display their nationality.
There are also a variety of officials pins, athlete pins and media pins to identify a person's status. At the end of the games, the wearers often exchange pins as a way of collecting souvenirs and making new friends.
In the following years, many Olympic partners began designing and selling Olympic pins, helping the tradition to grow and expand. Coca Cola is one of them. The company not only issues pins but has also built the first pin trading center for the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics. Here is David Brooks, vice president of Coca Cola China.
"The Coca Cola Company for the 1976 Olympics did work to actually create an official pin trading to get the culture started creating pins and inviting not just officials and athletes, but also the spectators.
And the general public had also got involved in pin trading." The Olympic pin trading culture has become a distinct part of the Olympic Games. And it has grown from Olympics to Olympics. It was very big in Sydney, and also quite popular in Greece. And Mr. Brooks expects more from Beijing in this August.
"For 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, Coka Company will be celebrating our 80th years of continuous Olympic sponsorship. So for us, it's a very important Olympics. We're looking forward to a lot of people buying pins, trading pins. And the value for us is in people exchanging, and greeting: 'Hello, Would you like to trade a pin with me? That creates a great human interaction within people. Where're you from? How's your country doing on the Olympics? How do you like Beijing? 'It gives a chance to break the eyes, and meet somebody else and have a fun, exchange with someone else. I'm looking forward this summer to see lots of scenes of young people, old people, especially people from different countries trading pins with each other, laughing with each other, having a fun time, because of the small link and small bridge that pin trading provided to people."
Because of China's large population of people who are passionate about the Olympic Games, the beverage Company has designed a series of pins with Chinese flavor. One of the new pins depicts the "Bird Nest" National Stadium.
"We have a very special agreement with the companies that own the Bird Nest National stadium, where the opening and close ceremony will be held. We have purchased the left of the steel to create Olympic pins. So for the first time every people can buy Olympic pin that is actually made of the same steel that the national stadium is made of. It will have a lot of souvenir value and monumental value for people."
For the Beijing Olympics, the company will place many pin trading locations around Beijing and China.
"For the first time ever, we're going to have a Coca Cola pin trading center inside the Olympic Village where all the athletes and officials live, right next to the main Olympic area in Beijing. There will be a small pin trading center where the athletes can buy the Water Pins to learn about the environment, learn about how to be better environmental ambassadors when they go back to their country. And that for us is a very important first step of bringing the pin trading and bringing these messages to the athletes as well."
David hopes that through the Olympic Pin programs in China, the values and culture of Olympic Pin Trading will be better understood by the Chinese people.