Two Chinese Olympic gold medalists have taken to social media to complain that the outer parts of the medals they received at the 2020 Tokyo Games seemed to be peeling off.
The details: Chinese women’s trampoline gold medalist Zhu Xueying took to Weibo on Monday to show the mark she found on her gold medal, Global Times reported.
- In her post, Zhu explained that she did not mean to “peel the thing off at first,” referring to a smudge-like mark on her medal. “I thought that it was probably just dirt, so I rubbed it with my finger and found that nothing changed, so then I picked at it and the mark got bigger,” the athlete said.
- Over 10,000 social media users commented on Zhu’s Weibo post. Some commenters argued the athletes should be given medals that are not flawed since they worked hard to earn them, while others unfavorably compared the 2020 medals to those from the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The medals given out at the Beijing Games were plated with gold and inlaid with jade.
- Swimmer Wang Shun, who won the gold in the 200-meter race at the Tokyo Games, also shared a similar issue about his medal on Weibo, saying he “dare not to pick at it anymore,” Insider reported.
Statement and explanation: In a statement to Global Times on Wednesday, the Organizing Committee of the Tokyo Olympic Games said that the material coming off Zhu’s medal was the coating applied on its surface and not the gold plating.
- “It does not affect the quality of the medal itself,” the committee added.
- Japan Mint, the branch of the Japanese government in charge of producing and circulating coins, said in a statement on Tuesday they did not notice any peeling on the medals.
Medal details: Approximately 20 Japan Mint employees worked on the 2020 Tokyo Games medals.
- The medals were made under the Tokyo Olympic Medal Project that started in 2017. The project’s goal was to salvage 100% of the metal from 78,985 tons of donated devices, including 6.21 million cellphones, to make 5,000 medals, according to Compoundchem.
- The silver medal was made entirely of silver, making it the purest among the three. The copper medals, on the other hand, had a composition of 95% copper and 5% zinc. The gold medals are 1.2% gold, all of which makes up the gold plating, and are 98.8% silver.
- Japan Mint had to salvage around 35 to 40 mobile phones to get just one gram of gold. In total, the project collected 32 kilograms (70 pounds) of gold, 3,500 kilograms (7,716 pounds) of silver and 2,200 kilograms (4,850 pounds) of copper and zinc.
- The 2020 Tokyo Games was not the first time the Olympics used recycled materials for the medals. About 30% of the materials used to create the silver medals in the 2016 Rio Olympics were from recycled parts, including X-ray plates, mirrors and car parts.