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Tokyo 2020 shows off Olympic medals made from old phones

5,000 gold, silver and bronze medals were made from recycled electronics.

Corinne Reichert Senior Writer
Corinne Reichert (she/her) grew up in Sydney, Australia and moved to California in 2019. She holds degrees in law and communications, and currently oversees the CNET breaking news desk for the West Coast. Corinne covers everything from phones, social media and security to movies, politics, 5G and pop culture. In her spare time, she watches soccer games, F1 races and Disney movies.
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Corinne Reichert
2 min read

The Olympic and Paralympic medals are made from recycled electronics.

Tokyo 2020

Japan's Tokyo 2020 has unveiled its Olympic medals made from recycled mobile phones. The Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games said its Tokyo 2020 Medal Project sourced small electronic devices from all over Japan to create 5,000 gold, silver and bronze medals.

Tokyo 2020 had first announced it would be making its medals out of recycled electronics way back in February 2017, asking the public to donate its old or unwanted phones . Gold, silver and bronze were extracted from the phones, with the same method used in the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.

"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.

The medals symbolize the energy of athletes, as well as the diversity of the games, Tokyo 2020 said, while their brilliant "signifies the warm glow of friendship."

The design of the medals also represents Japanese culture, with the ribbon showing off modernized ichimatsu moyo (checkered patterns) and kasane no irome (kimono layering techniques). The Tokyo 2020 colors are added to the ribbon through more co2-friendly chemically-recycled polyester fibers.

The medal cases are being created by Japanese craftworkers "with a blend of traditional and modern techniques."

In another effort to infuse its culture into the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, Japanese artists are also re-creating flags of countries participating in the event as anime characters, though the project is not officially affiliated with the games.

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