What you need to know

  • Tokyo 2020 Olympics organizing committee has unveiled the Olympic medals, which have been made using recycled electronics.
  • The Olympic Committee collected nearly 80,000 tons of old electronics to create the medals, including 6.21 million phones.
  • A total of 5,000 medals are expected to be given out in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The organizing committee of the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo has unveiled the silver, gold, and bronze medals for the upcoming games. Similar to the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, the medals for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics have been made using gold, silver, and bronze extracted from recycled electronics.

The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games organizing committee had announced a project to make Olympic medals out of recycled electronics in February 2017. It started collecting small electronic devices contributed by people from all over Japan between April 2017 and March 2019. As noted by USA Today, municipal authorities across the country managed to collect nearly 80,000 tons of small electronics, including 6.21 million used mobile phones, many of which were collected by NTT Docomo shops. After being classified and dismantled, contractors were able to extract approximately 70.5 pounds of gold, 7.716 pounds of silver, and 4,850 pounds of bronze from the devices.

Tokyo 2020 Olympic medals resemble rough stones that have been polished and reflect infinite patterns of light. According to the organizing committee, the medals' reflections not just symbolize the energy of the athletes but also signify the "warm glow of friendship". The medals are designed by Junichi Kawanishi, who was the winner of the Tokyo 2020 medal design competition that attracted more than 400 entries from both professional designers and design students.

This is not the first time that Olympic medals have been made using recycled electronics. The gold, silver, and bronze medals used in the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games were made from metal recycled from old TVs, computers, and keyboards.

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