In a game of world association, the mention of Olympic Games is likely to lead to the mention of medals or vice versa. Of course medals are not just part of this particular quadrennial global event, but it is one of those inherent aspects of the Games that you cannot keep apart.

Gold, silver and bronze medals have been awarded to the top finishers in every event at the Olympic Games and that is a tradition that began at the St. Louis Games in 1904. From 1896 in Athens to 1928 in Amsterdam, the medals ceremony traditionally took place during the Closing Ceremony of the Games. From 1932 in Los Angeles, the medals were awarded after each competition.

Medals are unique to each Games and here’s what you need to know about the ones on offer at Tokyo 2020:

To produce the medals, the Tokyo Organising Committee conducted the “Tokyo 2020 Medal Project” to collect small electronic devices such as used mobile phones from all over Japan. This project makes Tokyo 2020 the first in the history of the Olympic Games to involve citizens in the production of medals, and to manufacture the medals using recycled metals.

Approximately 5,000 medals have been produced from small electronic devices that were contributed by people all over Japan.

Tokyo 2020 launched a medal design competition, inviting the public to submit design ideas for the medals. The medals for Tokyo 2020 were designed by Junichi Kawanishi.

Design concept

The design of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic medals reflects the concept that, to achieve glory, athletes have to strive for victory on a daily basis. The medals resemble rough stones that have been polished and now shine, with “light” and “brilliance” their overall themes. The medals collect and reflect myriad patterns of light, symbolising the energy of the athletes and those who support them. Their design is intended to symbolise diversity and represent a world where people who compete in sports and work hard are honoured. The brilliance of the medals signifies the warm glow of friendship symbolising people all over the world holding hands.

In order to come up with a range of designs to choose from, Tokyo 2020 held a competition open to professional designers and design students which attracted more than 400 entries.

— via

International Olympic Committee regulations stipulate that the obverse medal design should include the following elements:

– Nike, the Greek goddess of victory, in front of the Panathinaikos Stadium
– The official name of the respective Games, in this case Games of the XXXII Olympiad Tokyo 2020
– The Olympic five rings symbol

via Tokyo 2020 media release
via Tokyo 2020 media release

Medal Specifications

  • Diameter: 85mm
  • Thinnest part: 7.7mm
  • Thickest part: 12.1mm
  • Gold weight: about 556g
  • Silver weight: about 550g
  • Bronze weight: about 450g 
  • Gold composition: more than 6 grams of gold plating on pure silver
  • Silver composition: pure silver
  • Bronze composition: red brass (95% copper and 5% zinc)
  • On the side of medal, the name of the event will be engraved in English

Design of the medal ribbon

The ribbon will employ the traditional Japanese design motifs found in ichimatsu moyo (harmonised chequered patterns) and kasane no irome (traditional kimono layering techniques) in a modern presentation.

Silicone convex lines are applied on the surface of the ribbon so that anyone can recognise the type of medal (gold, silver or bronze) by simply touching it. Chemically recycled polyester fibres that produce less CO2 during their manufacturing process are used.

Medal Case Design

The design of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games medal case is inspired by the Tokyo 2020 Games emblem. Each case pays tribute to the Olympians who have reached the pinnacle of athletic achievement. Japanese craftsmen will carefully create the cases with a blend of traditional and modern techniques. Like each individual Olympian who steps onto the field of play, each medal case is distinct and has its own wood fibre pattern subtly infused into the design.

You can read here about how the medal designs have evolved over the years.


With inputs from