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Rio Fights Phony Olympic Souvenirs With Official Knockoffs

Rio 2016 mascot Vinicius
Rio 2016 mascot Vinicius

Organizers of the Olympic Games in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro are taking a novel, fight-fire-with-fire approach to tackle counterfeit merchandise, a local newspaper reports.

As is often the case at international sporting events, prices of souvenirs at official stores in Rio are high — a pocket replica of the Olympic torch costs $34 in the Olympic Village — unattainable fare for most Brazilians in a country where the average minimum wage is just $270 a month, Brazilian newspaper O Globo notes.

It's the kind of niche that counterfeiters like to exploit. So, Rio 2016 organizers came up with an unusual idea — selling their own "knockoff" goods, the daily reports.

At Sahara, a popular market in the city's downtown area, customers can get almost the exact same products that are available at official stores — but for half the price, O Globo reports. A children's T-shirt that costs $25 at the Megastore on Copacabana beach sells for just $10.80 at the Sahara. The fabric is a bit thinner and the stitching is not quite as good as the Megastore one but the item is not counterfeit. It's an official, Rio 2016-sanctioned garment, albeit one of the Grade B variety, the paper says.

"Is it official?" one French tourist Pascal Le Maurice wonders about the polo shirt he spotted in the Sahara market for $18, O Globo reports. Megastore charges $43 for the same item but both have a hologram sticker proving their authenticity.

"For the quality, the value is very good," the newspaper cites the customer as saying. "I'll take it as a souvenir."

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Emma Albright & Valeria Berghinz

👋 Alò!*

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[*Haitian Creole]

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