Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 Tokyo Olympics was rescheduled from July 23 to August 8, 2021. According to Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, the delayed Olympic Games would go ahead in July, despite the country’s battle with a surge in coronavirus cases.
While there is still time for this decision to be reversed, the growing availability of a vaccine is a positive sign that the greatest athletes in the world will be able to take center stage this summer to “duke it out” for the coveted gold medal.
In preparation for the Tokyo Games, let’s take a closer look at these prize medals. Here are six intriguing facts about Olympic medals that will blow you away!
A Wreath and Silver Medal
Did you know that first-place athletes during the very first modern Olympic Games held in 1896 did not receive a gold medal for their achievements? Rather, they were crowned with an olive wreath and a silver medal.
It wasn’t until the 1904 Summer Olympics in St. Louis that the famous gold, silver, and bronze medals were awarded to athletes who finished first, second, and third place.
The Weight of the Winter Games Medals
Over the course of 53 Olympic Games (28 Summer and 23 Winter), medal designs have varied greatly. The medals awarded at the Summer Games tend to be more “classical,” with a simple, streamlined design.
The medals awarded at the Winter Games have historically had a more “freestyle” layout. They are usually much larger, thicker, and heavier than the Summer Game counterpart.
The Olympic Motto
Since 1924, “Citius, Altius, Fortius” (“Faster, Higher, Stronger”) has been the motto of the Olympic Games. While the motto has appeared on four Winter Games medals, the phrase has not appeared on any medals from the Summer Games.
Snacking on Olympic Medals
Have you ever wondered why Olympic athletes bite down on their medals in celebration of their victory? It certainly can’t be because of the yummy metallic taste. Well, it could be. I’m not here to judge.
Aside from an athlete’s preferred diet, Olympic winners snack on their medals at the request of photographers. The tradition is based on an ancient practice of biting into gold and other precious metals to verify their purity and authenticity.
Artistic Olympic Medals
While some Olympic events require more athleticism and physical fitness than others, all first- through third-place winners receive a medal. And yes, this includes artistic endeavors.
From 1912 to 1948, art competitions were part of the Olympic games. Medals were awarded for works of art inspired by different sporting events. The five categories of art included architecture, literature, music, painting, and sculpture.
Olympic Fool’s Gold Medals
I once stumbled on a piece of fool’s gold in my front yard as a child thinking I had become the richest kid on the block. To my disappointment, I was the fool and what I held in my hand was not gold.
While less of a dramatic story, the last series of gold medals made of solid gold were awarded at the 1912 Summer Olympic Games in Stockholm, Sweden. Olympic gold medals are now required to be made with a minimum of 92.5% silver and must contain at least 6 grams of gold.