With just one year to go until the opening ceremony of Tokyo 2020 kicks off on July 24, 2020, the organizers of the Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games has unveiled the gold, silver, and bronze medals that will be hung around the necks of Olympians. Read about what’s so special about the medals at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games below.
In a move to make Tokyo Olympics a truly sustainable event, the 5,000 medals presented to the Olympians during the games have all been crafted using 100 percent recycled materials from cellphones and electronic devices donated by citizens from all over Japan.
“A project that allows the people of Japan to take part in creating the medals is really good,” Koji Murofushi, the sports director of the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics, said during a news conference to announce the plan in 2017.
“There’s a limit on the resources of our earth, so recycling these things will make us think about the environment,” he continued.
The organizers spent the past two years—from April 2017 to March this year—to collect 78,985 tons of old cellphones and other electronic devices. Over 6.21 million cellphones were gathered.
With public contribution, the goals of extracting 30.3 kilograms (approx. 66.8 pounds) of gold, 4,100 kilograms (approx. 9,039 pounds) of silver, and 2,700 kilograms (approx. 5,952 pounds) of bronze out of the electronic waste were achieved, according to Olympic.org.
The Tokyo 2020 Olympic medal design, selected out of 400 competition entries, was contrived by Junichi Kawanishi, director of the Japan Sign Design Association and the Osaka Design Society.
“It is a great honor that my design was selected for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic medal,” Kawanishi said in a statement. “I never dreamed that the design I submitted only as a memorial to this lifetime event would actually be selected.”
The concept behind the medal design: rough stones that have been polished and now shine. “The design of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic medals reflects the concept that in order to achieve glory, athletes have to strive for victory on a daily basis,” states Tokyo 2020 on its website.
“The medals collect and reflect myriad patterns of light, symbolizing the energy of the athletes and those who support them; their design is intended to symbolize diversity and represent a world where people who compete in sports and work hard are honored. The brilliance of the medals’ reflections signifies the warm glow of friendship depicted by people all over the world holding hands.”
An embossed image of Nike, the Greek goddess of victory, standing in front of the Panathinaikos Stadium adores each medal, measuring 85 millimeters in diameter. On the front, each medal features the Tokyo Olympic emblem, “Tokyo 2020,” as well as the five Olympic rings.
The medal ribbon showcases modernized ichimatsu moyo (checkered patterns) and kasane no irome (kimono layering techniques)—reflecting Japanese culture. To top it off, the circular medal case will be crafted from Japanese ash wood by local craftsmen utilizing “a blend of traditional and modern techniques.”
“Like each individual Olympian who steps onto the field of play, each medal case is distinct and has its own wood fibre pattern subtly infused into the design,” Tokyo 2020 says.
In case you didn’t know, this is the first time Olympic medals have been made entirely from recycled materials. At the Rio 2016 Olympics, medals were manufactured using 30 percent recycled materials.
Other than sustainable medals, for the first time, the 100 podiums appearing at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic games will be built using approximately 45 tons of recycled plastic donated by citizens and retrieved from the seas during ocean-cleaning initiatives.
Official kit worn by Japanese athletes at the games held next summer will be partially made from recycled clothing and plastic bottles too.
Toshiro Muto, CEO of the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics organizing committee, said he hopes the initiative will send the message about the importance of sustainability locally and worldwide, NDTV reported.
Discarded electronic waste can release toxic materials into soil and water bodies, impacting both land and sea animals. So, turning the waste into sustainable medals for the Olympic Games is absolutely an excellent idea!
What do you think of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Medals’ design?
Watch “Behind the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Medal”: