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Tokyo Olympics: What are gold, silver and bronze medals made from?


The Tokyo 2020 medal design. (Picture: Alessandro Di Ciommo/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

The Tokyo 2020 Olympics are in full swing and Team GB have already started adding to their gold, silver and bronze medal tally across a multitude of events from diving to cross country cycling.

The tradition of giving a bronze, silver or gold medal to the winning athletes of every event began at the St. Louis Olympic Games in 1904.

While the materials largely remain the same, the design of the medals changes for every Olympic Games. This is because the host city is allowed to choose the design of the medals for the year that the event is held in their country.

What are gold, silver and bronze medals made from?

This year the Olympic medals have been designed by Junichi Kawanishi.

The gold medal is made of more than 6 grams of gold plating on pure silver, while the silver medals are made of pure silver. Interestingly, the bronze medal is made using a composition of 95% copper and 5% zinc.

Explaining the Tokyo 2020 Olympic medal design, the official Olympics website says: ‘The design of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic medals reflects the concept that, to achieve glory, athletes have to strive for victory on a daily basis. The medals resemble rough stones that have been polished and now shine, with “light” and “brilliance” their overall themes.

Divers Tom Daley and Matty Lee of Team GB show off their gold medals after taking first place in the Men’s Synchronised 10m Platform Final (Picture: Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)

‘The medals collect and reflect myriad patterns of light, symbolising the energy of the athletes and those who support them. Their design is intended to symbolise diversity and represent a world where people who compete in sports and work hard are honoured.

‘The brilliance of the medals signifies the warm glow of friendship symbolising people all over the world holding hands.’

Although the design of the medals changes for every Olympic Games, the International Olympic Committee regulations stipulate that all 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 respective Games somewhere in the design.


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