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Jesse Owens Gold Medal Auction "Difficult" for IOC President

Saturday, Nov 30, 2013  |  Updated 12:44 PM EDT
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Olympic Fashion Through the Ages

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In this Aug. 11, 1936 file photo, Jesse Owens of the U.S., center, salutes during the presentation of his gold medal for the long jump, after defeating Nazi Germany's Lutz Long, right, during the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin. Naoto Tajima of Japan, left, placed third. (AP Photo, File)

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It is "difficult" for IOC President Thomas Bach to accept that a gold medal won by track and field star Jesse Owens at the 1936 Berlin Olympics will be auctioned off and possibly be bought by a private collector.

The medal, one of four golds that Owens won at the Berlin Games in front of Adolf Hitler, is "a part of world heritage," Bach said.

"(It has) an importance far beyond the sporting achievements of Jesse Owens, which is part of world history," the IOC president said in an interview with The Associated Press at an anti-doping conference in South Africa. "To put this up for an auction is for me a very difficult decision (to accept)."

The International Olympic Committee will not intervene in the sale. SCP Auctions says the medal could sell for upward of $1 million in the online auction that runs from through Dec. 7.

According to the auction house, Owens gave the medal to his friend, movie star Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, to thank him for helping the athlete find work in the entertainment industry after he returned from Germany. It is being sold by the estate of Robinson's late widow.

SCP Auctions confirmed that the medal is genuine. The whereabouts of the other three original gold medals is unknown.

Owens was given a replacement set of medals, which now form part of an exhibition at Ohio State University, the school he attended.

Owens won gold in the 100 meters, 200 meters, 4x100 relay and long jump, a defining moment in Olympic history. He died in 1980.

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