About 130 medals rusted, spotted or falling apart
By CoinWeek News Staff ….
A lot was made last year of the failure of host country Brazil to properly prepare for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. The water in the swimming pool was green. The Olympic village had weird plumbing issues and shoddy construction; the athletes themselves spread the news via Twitter and other social media.
Especially damning, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) itself called Brazil’s preparations the “worst they’d ever seen”.
So no matter why the recent brouhaha has occurred–be it the fault of careless athletes or an incompetent mint–it serves only to add to the embarrassment Brazil has felt over the last one or two years.
On Friday, May 19 organizers of the Rio games were forced to address the fact that more than 130 Olympic medals handed out in 2016 were defective in some way and had been returned for repairs. Some now had visible rust, black spots or some other such corrosion or stain. Still others had begun to experience flaking or chipping.
Mario Andrada, a representative with the Rio Games Communications Office, claimed that the number of medals having issues consisted of “between six or seven percent” of the approximately 2,021 medals handed out at the Games. He also said that the “difference in temperatures” is responsible for the tarnishing seen on some medals, going so far as to call it “completely normal” The communications office also acknowledged that “about 10” were damaged by “extreme cold”.
Andrada stated that the Rio 2016 Organizing Committee started hearing about the defective medals in October of 2016
He also blamed the athletes, saying that many have dropped or mishandled their medals, causing the varnish to come off or rust and black spots to show up where medals were dropped. Many previous host countries have provided care instructions for their medals; Brazil did not.
Regardless, these medals are currently being fixed or replaced by the Casa de Moeda do Brasil (otherwise known as the Brazilian Mint), who originally designed and manufactured the medals for the 2016 Summer Olympics. Silver medals appear to constitute the majority of those returned, though a good number of bronze medals have also been affected. Even some medals awarded to winners of the Paralympics have also be returned for similar reasons.
Unveiled on June 15, 2016, the Rio Olympic medals feature winged Nike, the ancient Greek goddess of Victory, astride the Panathenaic Stadium facing the viewer. The Athenian Acropolis is seen in the background. The inscription XXXI Olimpiada Rio 2016 is found at the top of the medal, with the five interlocked Olympic rings located between the inscription and Nike’s head.
The reverse features a simplified laurel wreath motif, with the Rio Games logo and Olympic rings located in the center.
The precious metals used by the Brazilian Mint to bring this design to life on the bronze, silver and gold medals may have played a key role in Brazil’s embarrassment.
The silver and bronze medals used recycled material, while the gold in the gold medal was sourced using environmentally sustainable techniques and technology. Surprisingly though, an Olympic gold medal is only 1.34% pure gold – the rest (98.66%!) is made of .925 pure sterling silver. And 30% of the silver in Rio’s “gold” medals came from such recycled sources as mirrors, solder and x-ray plates.
But Brazil is far from alone in doing this. Japan, the host country of the fast-approaching 2020 Summer Olympics, has committed to being the most environmentally friendly games yet, with metal from old cellphones and electronic appliances in the supply chain for the Japanese medals.
A total of 2,488 medals were produced by the Brazilian Mint for the 2016 Olympics.
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