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Japan proposes recycled medals for 2020 Olympics

Proposal is part of organisers’ efforts to create an environmentally “sustainable” foundation for the summer Tokyo games

The new design for the main stadium for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics

The new design for the main stadium for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, replacing the original design by British-Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid, shelved due to escalating costs  Photo: The Japan Sports Council/AP

Japan’s Olympic organisers have unveiled a proposal to make medals out of recycled mobile phones and discarded computers.

The move is part of the organisers’ efforts to create an environmentally “sustainable” foundation for the summer games, which will take place in the Japanese capital in 2020.

The proposal will result in gold, silver and bronze medals being created from recycled precious metals obtained from discarded electronics, ranging from phones to computers.

London 2012 Olympic medals designed by British artist David Watkins.

The precious metals for the London 2012 medals mostly came from Utah, USA  Photo: PA

The concept was unveiled by members of a 19-strong task force responsible for drawing up a “legacy plan” for the 2020 Olympics and will be submitted to the Tokyo Organising Committee later this month for formal approval.

The proposal is inspired by the organisers’ desire to create an innovative and lasting legacy from the games, according to Hiroshi Komiyama, the chairman of the task force.

Tokaido Shinkansen Launching Ceremony at National Railway's Tokyo Station on October 1, 1964 in Tokyo, Japan. The Shinkansen made its debut in 1964 in time for the opening of the Tokyo Olympics  Photo: Getty

Tokyo last hosted the summer Olympics in 1964, a historic event during which Japan showcased to the world its status as a powerful economic powerhouse, with the unveiling of its first shinkansen bullet train.

The final design, form and materials of the medals must generally obtain approval from the International Olympic Committee, which issues a number of basic rules to host cities.

Rules have traditionally ranged from insisting that circular medals should have a diametre of at least 60mm long and a thickness of 3mm, to dictating that the silver used should be at least .925 grade, with 6 grams of gold plating for first place awards.

During the same meeting, the Tokyo task force also reportedly discussed issues relating to the material to be used in the new national stadium and whether it should be made from recycled aluminum, glass and wood.

The new stadium has proven to be a humiliating stumbling block for the Olympic committee to date, since the government abruptly abandoned its original design by Zaha Hadid last year due to spiraling costs and complaints surrounding the design.

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