You are here: Home / News / Olympic and Paralympic medals of the Rio 2016 Games


Jun 15, 2016 02:34 PM


Olympic and Paralympic medals of the Rio 2016 Games

Object of desire of athletes were produced sustainably and bring an accessible innovation for visually impaired athletes

This Tuesday afternoon (14.06), in the Futuro Arena at the Barra Olympic Park, the Rio 2016 Organising Committee presented the medals that will be given to athletes at the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The object of desire of athletes was developed together with Brazil's Mint, valuing sustainability and accessibility. In total, 5,130 medals were produced, 2,488 for the Olympics and 2,642 for the Paralympics.

Over 30% of the silver and bronze used in producing the medals were recycled. Fifty per cent of the ribbons were woven using recycled PET threads. The inputs from wood products, like certificates, cases and diplomas carry the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certificate, securing their origin from areas with sustainable and socially responsible environmental management.

When the subject is the Paralympic medals, the big innovation is accessibility. The metal composition, format and relief are the same as for the Olympic version. But the drawings change, as well as an internal device that makes metal sounds, allowing visually disabled athletes to identify them. The medals have a sort of internal rattle with steel spheres. The bronze medal has 16 sphere, the silver 20 and the gold 28, which allows them to be distinguished by sound.


The medals that will be awarded – gold, silver and bronze – weigh approximately 500g and have a bulge, with a slightly raised centre. On the edges, there is a laser engraving that allows for the category (male and female) and sport to be identified. The ribbons are tied using a spring pin.

Both sides of the Olympic medals (observe and reverse) are unique for all medals (gold, silver and bronze) for all sports. The observe has the standard portrait of the Goddess Nike, using an artistic project by the Rio 2016 Committee and modelling by artists from the Brazilian Mint. The reverse brings the laurels and the Rio 2016 Games' brand.

The Paralympic symbol is on the observe of the medal, as well as the official name of the Paralympic Games in Braille. The reverse is made up by the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games brand.


Olympic and Paralympic gold medals

All gold used in the medals is completely mercury free and may be traced through sustainability criteria, from its extraction to refinement. The mining company that supplied the gold was audited by the Brazilian Mint and the Rio 2016 Committee.

In addition to concerns related to the extraction method used, other sustainability criteria were checked, like whether environmental and labour legislation was being complied with.

Recycled silver (92.5% pure) is also used as a raw material in the production of the gold medals. The silver comes from mirror waste, demisters from automobiles' rear windows (conductive paint), silver containing solder and X-ray plates (photolithography). All this material went through extraction, forging and purifying processes, until they reached the recycled silver used for producing the gold medals. The company that supplied the silver was also audited by the Brazilian Mint and the Rio 2016 Committee.

In all, 812 Olympic (image below) and 877 Paralympic gold medals were produced, containing 494g of silver (92.5% pure) and 6g gold (99.9% pure) in their metal composition. They have 85mm in diameter and their thickness varies between 6 and 11mm (between the thinnest and thickest parts – edge and centre, because of their bulging format).

Olympic and Paralympic silver medals

In total, 812 Olympic and 876 Paralympic medals (image below) were produced, containing 500g of silver. The weight, ribbon spring pin, thickness, edges and formats are the same as the ones used for the gold medals.

Olympic and Paralympic bronze medals

Over 40% of all the copper used to produce the bronze medals comes from industrial waste belonging to the Brazilian Mint itself. Instead of discarding the waste, the metal was forged and decontaminated at the company itself in order to make the alloy necessary for making the bronze medals. All of the recycling process developed internally by the Brazilian Mint was verified and monitored by the Rio 2016 Committee.
In all, 864 Olympic and 889 Paralympic bronze medals were produced, containing 475g of copper (97%) and 25g of zinc (3%). The weight, ribbon spring pin, thickness, edges and formats are the same as the ones used for the gold medals.

Source: Brazilian Mint - Casa da Moeda do Brasil