The upcoming Olympics in 2020 will be held in Tokyo, and the medals for the competition have been revealed. What makes these medals special, other than only a handful of people will receive them, is that they will be made from old cellphones and other electronics. These discarded and donated electronics will be stripped of their precious metals, which include gold, silver, and bronze (or, more accurately, copper and zinc).
These recycled metals will then be melted down and cast as the medals for those who make it to the podium.
Tokyo’s Olympic Organising Committee started the effort to gather old electronics, which they called the “Everyone’s Medal” campaign, in 2017. Citizens of the country were asked to donate devices that could be used. The games will require approximately 5,000 medals—that’s a lot of recycled electronics.
The guidelines for the medals stipulates that silver medals must be at least 92.5 per cent silver. Tokyo’s medals will be pure silver. The gold medals are mainly silver, but must have a plating of at least six grams of pure gold. Around 79,000 tons of electronics, which included over six million cell phones, were contributed to the campaign.
The results were 32 kilograms of gold, 3,500 kilograms of silver, and 2,200 kilograms of copper and zinc.
Ryohei Miyata, the chair of the Tokyo 2020 medal design selection panel, stated, “I am convinced that Japanese metal moulding techniques and the superb design have combined well, and that we have the best medal in the world—one that we can be proud of. There is also a beautiful balance between the design of the medals and their ribbons. It makes me want to strive for a medal myself.”
The new medals will measure 8.5 centimetres in diameter. On the front will be an image of Nike—no, not the Swoosh, but the Greek goddess of victory. The reverse side will have a pebble-like appearance and will feature the laurel wreath with “Tokyo 2020” and the Olympic rings. The medals will be presented at both the Olympics and the Paralympics, which will be held July and August of 2020.