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Medals at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics Will Be Made From Recycled Phones

Nothing like being a good sport with some environmentally-conscious bling.

by Shamani Joshi
28 July 2019, 10:12pm

Screengrab of the unveiling video released by Tokyo 2020 Olympics Organising Committee

This article originally appeared on VICE India

At a time when climate change despair is a real thing and a possible apocalypse is brewing right as we speak, the Tokyo 2020 Olympic organising committee appears to be right on the trend. On July 24, the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games unveiled their new medals, and the coolest part about them is that they’ve been crafted entirely out of recycled used phones.

Drawing inspiration from a similar strategy adopted by the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games which were made by recovering metal from unwanted computer parts, the medals are a part of the Tokyo 2020 Medal Project, an initiative in which Japanese citizens donated unwanted phones or broken parts of their old phones in 2017. With more than six million devices collected, the engineers were able to recover 32kg of gold, 3,500kg of silver and 2,200kg of bronze to make their medals. Those were then upcycled to make 5,000 Olympic medals for the Olympic season next year.

"We hope that our project to recycle small consumer electronics and our efforts to contribute to an environmentally friendly and sustainable society will become a legacy of the Tokyo 2020 Games," Tokyo 2020 said in a statement to news website CNET.

The medals, designed by Japanese medal designer Junichi Kawanishi, feature geometric drawings inspired by the traditional Japanese design of ichimatsu moyo (harmonised checkered patterns) and kasane no irome (traditional techniques of kimonos). The Japanese craftsmanship continues with the medal cases, which are "a blend of traditional and modern techniques”, along with reimagining the flags of participating countries as anime characters.

Considering Olympics kicked off as a way for divided crowds to unite through sportsmanship, it seems like a fitting ode to the current climate crisis and a way forward to fix it.

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