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(AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
One of the best spectator sports at the Olympics is pin trading. But collection buffs say the Rio Games have been a disappointment much like Sochi was two years ago.
They say fears of Zika and street crime kept crowds down and pin collectors away.
"That's too bad because I haven't seen any mosquitoes and with all the police and soldiers here, we feel very said," said Sid Hopkins of Atlanta, who was doing less-than-brisk business inside the Coca Cola pin trading tent Tuesday.
Hopkins estimates pin trading is down 40 percent from London in 2012 and said Rio is the worst he's seen in nine Olympics.
He said organizers didn't help matters by not having many pins available outside of the Megastore and the Coca Cola store at the Olympic park.
"The whole marketing of pins in Rio is not very good," he said. "Look around, the people coming in here don't have pins on their lanyards to trade."
(AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)
Russian collector Irina Dzidziguri, who sets up daily outside the media center gates, suggests another factor in the drop-off is that some of the thousands of Brazilian volunteers amassing an array pins from journalists, athletes and vendors are not eager to give up them up.
This being the first Olympics in South America, "I guess they want to hold onto their memories," said Dzidziguri, who's at least glad to see so many new fans of the hobby.
Sochi wasn't good for the serious pin collector, either, said Jeffrey Kolkmann, a Californian living in Norway. He said the last winter games were bad because of its locale and threat of military conflict.
Still, Rio has been good to Kolkmann, whose interests go beyond pins. Among his prizes from Rio are a couple of golf balls from the sport's return to the Olympic program after more than a century and a tennis ball from Rafael Nadal.
Still, Kolkmann's primary hobby is pin collecting _ in May he attended from the Olympic pin collectors fair in Gothenburg, Sweden.
(AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
Kolkmann said he expects Pyeongchang in 2018 and Tokyo in 2020 will spawn a comeback for Olympic pin collecting.
"Tokyo is going to be great, South Korea is going to be great," he said. "They're both beautiful, safe places. They're expensive to get to, but it's worth it to trade Olympic pins."