Even weightlifting gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz does not have any idea about the monetary value of her medal. The only thing she knows is that it cost tons of sweat and tears to win the country’s first ever gold medal in the Olympics.
Are the Olympic gold medals really made of pure gold?
It’s actually not the case. That symbol of sporting greatness is made of pure silver and has about six grams of gold plating.
The metal composition of the medals is a general requirement by the International Olympic Committee with the silver weighing not less than 92.5 grams. The medal should also measure at least 60mm in diameter and three millimeters thick.
The gold medal in Tokyo weighs about 556 grams, a little lighter than the one minted in PyeongChang for the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea.
Some experts put a price tag of $80 for the gold medal, considering the inflation rate of the infused gold and the silver metals.
Design of Tokyo medal
The design of the medals for the Tokyo Summer Games was made by Junichi Kawanishi, director of the Japan Sign Design Association and the Osaka Design Society.
The job was not commissioned to him.
Junichi didn’t get the honor on a silver platter as he had to beat 400 other professional designers and design students in a contest hatched by the Tokyo Olympics Organizing Committee.
The competitors must strictly stick to the Olympic theme that includes all the five rings symbol, Nike, the Greek goddess of victory, in front of the Panathinaikos Stadium and the official name of the Games.
Every Olympics should be different as every host country wants to stamp their own uniqueness. For the Tokyo Games, the medal has patterns of light that represent the athlete’s energy and “those who support them.” The brilliance in it symbolizes “the warm glow of friendship” among participating countries.
The lace for the medals is where Japan put its reflection as a country that promotes “Unity in Diversity.”
What are the medals made of?
The Tokyo organizers launched the 2020 Medal Project in 2018 to make medals from recycled metals, to be distributed across 33 different sports.
The aim was to extract the precious metals from the these gadgets to be used for the manufacturing of about 5,000 medals and about 540 more for the Paralympics which will start on August 24.
The public was encouraged to donate old electronic devices like used mobile phones and in March 2019, and approximately 2,400 kg of bronze, 16.5kg of gold and 1,800kg of silver have been recovered.
A total of 78,985 tons of small electronic devices were collected. These constuted about half of the needed precious metals for the medals.
It was a milestone for an environment-friendly project that offered the public to play a major role in the country hosts’ preparation for the Olympics. Japanese athletes also took part by personally donating their own devices and collecting from the community.
While the Philippines made history by winning its first gold medal after 97 years of participation in the Olympics, it is the United States that holds the record for the most gold medals won at an Olympic Games by a single country with 83 gold medals collected at the 1984 Los Angeles Games.
By the way, you may ask what the silver and the bronze medals are made of.
Yes, the silver medal is made of pure silver while the bronze medal has 95% copper and 5% zinc to form what they call the red brass.