Were they dropped, mishandled or is the Casa da Moeda do Brasil (Mint of Brazil) responsible for shoddy workmanship on Olympic medals?
Regardless of where the finger of guilt should be pointed, the bottom line is that at least 130 of the 2016 Rio Olympics and Paralympics medals have been returned to the Olympic Game organizers due to problems with the medals. The 2016 Games took place in Rio De Janeiro.
In a May 19 Reuters News report it was revealed that “at least 130 medals,” these being primarily bronze medals, had been returned to the Brazilian mint for repairs. The Reuters reported added, “The Brazilian Mint is repairing the medals and will then get them back to the winning athletes.”
This led to a response from Rio 2016 Communications Director Mario Andrada.
“The most common issue is that they were dropped or mishandled and the varnish has come off and they’ve rusted or gone black in the spot where they were damaged,” said Andrada. “The second thing is that a small few, about 10, had problems with the extreme cold.”
Andrada summarized that what had happened to some of the medals was “completely normal.”
A Rio design team planned and designed the gold, silver, bronze and participation medals for the 2016 Summer Olympic and for the Paralympic games. The Brazilian mint then struck more than 75,000 participation and 5,000 award medals. (There were 812 gold, 812 silver and 864 bronze medals presented to Summer Olympic Games winning athletes.)
The medals were reportedly made from recycled electronic equipment. The 500-gram weight silver and bronze medals contain 30 percent recycled metal. The ribbons were made using 50 percent recycled polyethylene terephthalate.
The gold medals were announced to be “completely free of mercury.” According to Rio 2016 information, “The gold medals are purer than ever, meeting sustainability criteria from extraction to refining, as well as meeting strict environmental and labor laws.”
The International Olympic Committee mandates that gold medals must contain a minimum of six grams of gold and be at least 0.925 fine silver in overall content.
According to Rio 2016, the 0.925 fine or sterling silver medals were made using “leftover mirrors, waste solders, and X-ray plates.”
“And 40 percent of the copper used in the bronze medals came from waste at the mint itself. The substance was melted and decontaminated to provide material for the medals,” according to Rio 2016.
At the time of the unveiling of the medals, Rio 2016 President Carlos Nuzman said, “The medals are one of the most important symbols of the games and we are very pleased that we can count on the Brazilian Mint as our partner in this unique moment in history of the Brazilian sport.”
Casa da Moeda do Brasil has previously produced medals for the 2011 World Military Games and 2007 Pan-American Games, both of which were held in Rio de Janeiro.
This article was originally printed in World Coin News. >> Subscribe today.
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