The 2020 Summer Olympics organising committee pledged to deliver a ‘minimal impact and sustainable’ event and it seems they have already taken a giant step towards achieving that goal.
The organisers have announced that medals that will be given away in the Tokyo Olympics will be made of recycled material taken from old electronic devices. They have also asked the Japanese public to help them with the initiative.
The 2020 Olympics and Paralympics will require a total of around 5,000 medals and the organisers are hoping to collect eight tonnes of metal - including 40kg of gold, 4,920kg of silver and 2,944kg of bronze - to achieve their target.
Tokyo 2020 organisers have already received support from Japan’s leading mobile carrier, NTT DoCoMo,, which will host collection boxes in 2,400 stores. The government will also be looking to set up collection centres in an ‘undecided number of public offices throughout the country’.
Talking about the initiative, Japanese gymnast Kohei Uchimura said: “Computers and smart phones have become useful tools. However, I think it is wasteful to discard devices every time there is a technological advance and new models appear.”
The 28-year-old, a seven-time Olympic medallist and a 19-time World medallist, added, “In the field of sport, gymnastics techniques too have evolved as a result of the efforts made by athletes in the past. Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic medals will be made out of people’s thoughts and appreciation for avoiding waste. I think there is an important message in this for future generations.”
This is not the first time such a step has been taken by Olympics organisers. Medals made of recycled electronic circuit boards were used in the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver. However, what makes the initiative unique is that the public will play a huge role in making it a success.
The initiative has earned a lot of praise from athletes around the world. Ashton Eaton, the US reigning two-time Olympic decathlon gold medalist, told The Times: “The weight of a medal around your neck is always a good weight. And when an athlete at Tokyo wins a medal, the weight of it will not be from the gold, silver or bronze; it will be the weight of a nation.”
Olympics organisers have for years been battling costs spiraling out of control. The International Olympic Committee has brought in restrictions on the number of participants while host cities, be it the Olympics or Asian or Commonwealth Games, now look to curb expenditure in every aspect.