Back in April 2017, the Japanese Olympic Committee began collecting discarded electronics with the aim to make all of the Tokyo 2020 gold, silver, and bronze medals from metal waste. Having gathered over 47,000 tons of tech—including more than 5 million cell phones—the committee has recently revealed the design for the 100% sustainable medals.
Selected from over 400 competition entries, the winning Olympic medal design was created by Japanese design director Junichi Kawanishi. The concept is based on the idea of polishing rough stones until they 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,” says Tokyo 2020. “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.”
Each medal measures 85mm in diameter and features an embossed image of Nike, the Greek goddess of victory, in front of the Panathinaikos Stadium. On the reverse side, the medals are engraved with “Tokyo 2020” and the iconic five Olympic rings. A total of 5,000 gold, silver and bronze medals have all been manufactured using the collected recycled metals, and each one comes with a ribbon and a wooden case made by Japanese craftspeople. Tokyo 2020 says, “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.”
You can find out even more about the Olympic medal design on the Tokyo 2020 website.