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Silly Dictator Story #12: Azerbaijan's Olympic Dreams For Sale

Azerbaijan's Elvin Mamishzada (left) boxes Mongolia's Tugstsogt Nyambayar in London. No word yet from Azerbaijan if anyone was watching.
If a national team's boxer boxes in London and no officials from the Olympic delegation are there to watch it, did the fight ever happen?

SkyNews has published hidden camera video of a man claiming to be from the National Olympic Committee of the Azerbaijani Republic who is scalping tickets outside the Olympics boxing venue. Through an interpreter, he says the tickets were given to him for free by "some officials" who, according to the man, did not seem too passionate about their Olympians' efforts.

Draped in the Azerbaijani national flag, the man sells what SkyNews claims are tickets worth 75 pounds ($118) for just 20 ($31). He then encourages the buyer to look for "someone wearing the Azerbaijani flag" the next day if he wants another good deal.

One would think that Azerbaijan's Olympic authority -- headed by the country's President Ilham Aliyev himself -- would take a pretty active interest in the fate of its athletes given the amount of money it (potentially) has riding on their performances.

Authorities have pledged $510,000 for every gold medal, $255,000 for every silver, and $128,000 for every bronze hauled in by Azerbaijani athletes. Thus far, Azerbaijan has just one medal, a bronze in weightlifting courtesy of Valentin Hristov.

They are going to have to sell a few more tickets to pay his reward.

-- Zach Peterson

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Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at

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