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Gold medals not entirely made of gold? Here’s all to know about the Tokyo Olympic medals

Tokyo National Olympic Stadium (Tokyo-Good/WikiCommons)

It won’t be long before the first medals of the 2020 Olympic Games are handed out, as a total of seven sports will be giving out the honors the day after the opening ceremonies.

In 2016, 973 medals were given out during the Games in Rio de Janeiro, and there will only be more with the addition of new sports like 3×3 basketball, softball and skateboarding. In total, approximately 5,000 medals were made for the games.

While each gold, silver and bronze medal includes some of the same elements as years past, each host city puts its own twist into what the medals look like so no two games look the same, and this year is no different. Here is everything to know about the medals that will be handed out this year.

All medals must have certain emblems on them. According to the International Olympic Committee, medals must include: The Olympic five rings symbol, Nike, the Greek goddess of victory, in front of the Panathinaikos Stadium and the official name of the games. This year’s games are officially called the Games of the XXXII Olympiad Tokyo 2020.

The unique twist on this year’s medals reflect their theme, which is “light and “brilliance” as they are meant to resemble rough stones that are now polished.

The medal’s patterns of light represent athlete energy and “those who support them.” The design symbolizes diversity, while the “brilliance” represents “the warm glow of friendship” around the world, according to the Tokyo Olympic Committee.

The name of the event the competitor competed in will be engraved on the side of the medal in English.

The medals are attached to a victory medal ribbon that is, “designed to be a reflection of Japan itself and of the way the country demonstrates ‘Unity in Diversity.'” Winners are also given a unique wooden medal case. No two cases are the same.

The diameter is approximately 3.35 inches. The thinnest part of the medal is 7.7 millimeters long and the thickest part is 12.1 millimeters long. Gold medals weigh about 556 grams, silver weighs about 550 grams and bronze is about 450 grams.

The medals were designed by Junichi Kawanishi, who is the director of the Japan Sign Design Association and the Osaka Design Society. He won a competition over 400 other professional designers and design students.

If you thought the gold medals were made entirely out of gold, it’s actually not the case. The gold medals only have six grams of gold plating on it, as the rest is pure silver. The silver medal is made of pure silver while the bronze medal is made of red brass, which is 95% copper and 5% zinc.

The Tokyo 2020 Medal Project collected mobile phones and electronic devices across Japan from April 2017-March 2019 to craft the medals. Over 78 tons of devices were collected to come up with approximately 71 pounds of gold, 7,700 pounds of silver and 4,850 pounds of bronze.


(c) 2021 USA Today

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