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Is Olympic Gold Medal Real?

The shiny golden Olympic medals that you see winners waving and celebrating with. Surprisingly the medals are Not 100% pure in terms of gold, the medals are Made Of at least 92.5% pure silver and the gold in medals is plated on the surface of the medal and it is at least 6 grams each. The last time the medal was 100% pure was back in 1912. As confirmed by an IOC spokesperson he told a media outlet that the gold medal contains at least 925-1000 graded silver.                                   

Of Silver, the medal is made of pure silver without any Amalgamation, while the bronze medal is made of 95% copper and the rest percentage of zinc.

Why Olympic Gold Medals Are Not 100% Pure?

The tradition of awarding Medals made of pure gold hasn’t been in practical use since 1912. Ever since the medals are amalgamated with silver in favouring the ration of silver, The Main reason why medals used in 110 years aren’t made of pure gold because of the cost of the precious metal and gold is a very soft metal and can be scratched and easily dented. By using pure gold, it could nearly cost 10,800-35,000(based on prices of gold in the hosting region) dollars to authorities for each medal.

However, during world war I 1 the tradition of using pure gold medals was discontinued due to the induced storage of the precious metal.

On the initial day, gold medals were never awarded to the winners until the year 1896, 1st place athlete was awarded silver medals and for runners-up, it was a silver medal.

Economically it truly makes sense as a single gold medal would go on to cost around 33,000 thousand dollars each to the hosting authorities. As they have to award these medals to hundreds of the achievers which will optimally become an over-expensive factor.

And while considering the prices of gold which are affected by inflation you can wonder why they stopped using gold medals made of 100% pure graded gold.

Shape and size of medal?

  • The Gold medals are which are awarded to winners are circular attached with a ribbon. IOC also have guidelines for hosts to prepare medals, which are as follows: –
  • The diameter of the medal should be at least 60 millimetres.
  • Thickness up to 3 millimetres
  • Medals should weigh in the range of 500-800 grams.

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Recently used medals

Is Olympic Gold Medal Real
  • Tokyo 2020 summer Olympics: The thing that made medals in this Olympic event unique was that all of the medals were made of materials which were recycled from electronic devices which were donated by the Japanese public. The chief designer of the medals Mr Hang Hai designed the medals in a very attractive way and also highlighted the tribute to medals used in the 2008 Beijing summer Olympics.
  • Beijing 2022 winter Olympics: The sporting events that were held between 4 February to 20 February used the medals depicting ‘Chinese Ancient jade concentric circle pedants’ featuring ice, snow and patterns of cloud. Meanwhile, Beijing also bagged a record of becoming the first city to host both summer and winter Olympics. What makes it more unique that the medals were named ‘Ton-Xing’, which means “together as one” promoting the symbol of solidarity and unity between the participating nations.
  • Rio 2016 summer Olympics: The themes of medals featured in this event were also being ‘eco-friendly’. The metals were composed of 98% silver with purity up to 92.5% and all free of mercury contamination. The medals weighed around 500 grams. And according to many critics gold medals barely contained gold. About 30% of silver used in metals was extracted from recycled mirrors, solder and x-ray plates, and bronze medals were made of copper waste from the mint.
Is Olympic Gold Medal Real

 How much do Olympic medals worth?

  • The medals cost a lot less than you think taking statistics of the latest summer Olympic events in Tokyo into consideration, each medal was worth $820. And that to because inflation has been affected by inflation. In 2010 a media outlet called ‘luxe’ reported that the gold medals only cost $494 each, silver medals cost $264 each and bronze medals only $3 each. As you would have noticed in just 10 years the worth of gold medals nearly doubled.
  • Although the gold medal has its emotional value, an athlete who worked hard to become no. 1 in the whole world would consider the medal priceless, but for it, many go down to selling it in auctions to aid their financial situations.
  • We should also keep in mind that we are discussing the face value of the medals, once it is awarded to the winner: the value automatically jumps to a higher value and for some unimaginable. Once a Ukrainian boxer Wladimir Klitschko sold his medal for $1 million which he won in 1996 which he donated to a children’s charity. American swimmer Anthony Ervin also once sold his medal in 2004 to donate the sum amount to the victims of the Indian Ocean tsunami.
  • IOC regulations instruct the host to prepare an Olympic gold medal which at least contains 6 grams of gold amalgamated with 92.5 % silver.
  • Talking in actual numbers, as of recent data collected the medals contains $350 worth of gold and $400 worth of silver. Which comes in a total of $750 in value of medal.
  • Just like the sentimental values of medals have a unique historical value which is enormous. Many hosts such as Beijing and Athens once used medals to depict the cultural values for example “ancient Chinese jade -pedants”.  
Is Olympic Gold Medal Real

History of gold medals in Olympic games

  • During the ancient Olympic games which were dated in 776 BCE, the successful competitors were awarded olive wreaths rather than the medals like in modern times. The tradition of awarding medals to the winner came in 1896 Athens, the first-place winners used to receive silver medals and bronze medals for the second-place athletes, However, the third-place achievers had to leave empty-handed.
  • The fancy tradition of giving gold medals to the winner came in 1904 at the St. Louise Olympics.
  • To preserve the history and the sentimental values of the Olympic Games, IOC also asks the hosts to prepare the medals which include: The Greek goddess of victory in front of Panathinaikos stadium, the official name of the games and the most important one The Olympics 5 rings symbol.
  • The 2022 Winter Olympics featured the medals which depicted: Ice, Snow and clouds as a homage to the winter games held in the city of Beijing.
  • Many of you would surely have ignored the lesson of 5 coloured rings in the flag of the Olympics. If you did then it’s your lucky day! The 5 rings in the flag represent the 5 great continents of the world at the time of its creation and the different colours symbolised the participating country.  

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Why do Olympians bite their gold medals?

  • A thing might have stricken your mind after observing the visual scenes of the time when the winner gets his gold medal poses for a photo by biting the medal. Well, that is because of the same tradition used a long time ago when people used to bite the coins to test if it’s a bar of real gold or not, same followed years later when winners used to bite the gold medal to make sure it’s real or not.
  • But in today’s time biting the medal has no relevance to its quality as we have just discussed in brief.  Once David wallechinsky, the president of the International Society of Olympic Historians told the media outlets “I think they look at it as an iconic shot, something that you can probably sell. I don’t think it’s something the athletes would probably do on their own”.

Some more facts about Olympic medals

  • Gold, Silver and Bronze represent the 3 out of 5 ages of man in Greek mythology. The golden age, The silver age and the bronze age. The golden age was the time when men once lived in harmony with each other. In the silver age, in this age, we saw men stray in piety, and the Bronze age marks the period of war and violence.
  • 76 years of blunder: – in the Olympic games of 1928 the front of every gold medal showed the images of the ‘Roman colosseum’ despite the Greek origin of the Olympic games. This was fixed in 2004 when the IOC finally decided to replace this with “Athens, Panathenaic stadium”.


Thus, so far, we can conclude that the Gold medals aren’t real because almost 90% of it is made of silver. But this goes beyond the monetary value of the medal. Winning gold means being the best in the world and no.1 for the time being. This is a precious accolade that very few are fortunate enough to have, it’s the sentimental values which go beyond the Factors of gold medals being real or not because for a winner its always priceless they just want to live the moment that was made after years and years of hard work, dedication and resilience.

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