The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games is now over but we still have the Paralympics to look forward to which commences on 24 August.
Every athlete at the Olympic and Paralympic Games strives to achieve a Gold medal. You may be surprised to know that this golden moment involves very little actual gold.
In fact, there hasn't been a "real" gold medal handed out at the Olympics for over a hundred years (the 1912 Stockholm Games were the last to primarily use the element). 2
Beneath the shiny facade, Olympic champions and second place finishers are wearing the exact same thing — silver. As for the third place bronze medals — they tend to be made from a mix of copper and zinc.
If championship medals at Tokyo 2020 were to actually be made out of solid gold they would be worth in excess of $30,000 each. Instead, their value checks in at roughly $1,000.
Those achieving a medal, be it Gold, Silver or Bronze, have little interest in the monetary value – its all about the prestigious accolade of actually winning their event/s and the medal represents this wonderful achievement.2
During the ancient Olympics, athletes were awarded olive wreaths. It was only after the Games were reborn in 1896 that the tradition of distributing medals to the winners began, with the practice first being implemented at the 1904 Summer Games in St. Louis.
And, while the size and shape of the medals has continued to evolve over time — as well as the imagery — the Tokyo Games are proudly extending one tradition that started in Rio 2016, where silver and bronze medals were made of 30 per cent recycled materials.2
All of the approximate 5,000 medals to be distributed throughout the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Japan are made entirely of recycled materials.
A two-year project that involved Japanese citizens donating their used-electronic devices, over 78,985 tons of mobile phones, digital cameras, handheld games and laptops were melted down to produce every-last one of Tokyo's highly-coveted prizes.
In all, organizers estimate Japanese citizens donated 78,985 tons of used electronics, including six million phones, to forge sustainable prizes.
The final product, as shown above, has the Tokyo 2020 emblem on one side, and Nike — the Greek goddess of victory, in front of the Panathinaikos Stadium — on the other, while the Olympic rings display on both sides.2
The case that houses the medals is equally breathtaking. Made of Japanese ash wood, the circular lid and body can be opened to resemble a ring, thanks to its magnets.
Designer Junichi Kawanishi purposely gave the medals a polished, pebble-like appearance to signify the 'warm glow' of people holding hands and said:
With their shining rings, I hope the medals will be seen as paying tribute to the athletes' efforts, reflecting their glory and symbolizing friendship.2
This short video gives you a summary of the processes from designing the medal, priting the ribbons and making the timber casings.
Japan has used recycled materials throughout the Olympics. From sustainable cardboard beds in the Athletes' Village to producing podiums — from which event winners will celebrate their triumphs — out of recycled household plastics.
Today we are also welcoming to the AnArt4Life on-line community B.M. in the U.K. - it is a wonderful feeling to know that all around the world we are all gaining a greater appreciation of art and sharing our common interest in all things art.
2. All text taken from cbc.ca/sports/olympics/summer/tokyo-olympic-medals-recycled-materials-1.6114606