Here at the 2008 Olympic equestrian events in Hong Kong, it’s not love; it’s commerce — or, more accurately, bartering.

Pin trading, long a popular Olympic pastime, is alive and well here. People stud their credential-card lanyards with pins, thereby becoming walking bazaars of sorts. Would-be traders eye the merchandise and offer up pins as prospective swaps. You don’t need to speak the language to conduct a transaction. Some of the most enthusiastic pin traders here are the young Chinese women who, as part of the massive BOCOG work force, staff the shuttle-bus stops, information desks, and security checkpoints.

Yesterday, on my way out from the press center, I was approached by a checkpoint worker who gestured enthusiastically at my lanyard bling and held up a square pin bearing the Olympic rings, a Union Jack-styled logo, and the words “Team GB” (Great Britain). She chattered excitedly in Chinese, and I couldn’t understand a word of it, but the result was that I got on the shuttle bus bearing a brand-new Team GB pin. And somewhere in China, someone is treasuring her new Dressage at Devon (Pennsylvania) pin.

The scenario was repeated just moments later, at the shuttle-bus stop. This time the exchange was conducted in English, and I now have a pretty silver pin from the Swedish equestrian team, and a Swedish groom has a Hong Kong equestrian pin.

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