Coins marking the modern Olympic Games have been issued since 1951 when Finland marked the Helsinki Games. The number of countries issuing coins peaked during the late 20th century, at which time countries that didn’t even send athletes to compete in the Games were issuing non-circulating legal tender coins.
Times have changed. The Olympic Committee guards the use of the symbol of the five Olympic rings on coins more carefully. There is less fanfare and marketing surrounding commemorative Olympic coins than in the past. Nonetheless the interest in not only Olympic coins, but in commemorative Olympic bank notes has reached the point of ‘irrational exuberance’ in China, host country to the 2022 Winter Olympic Games.
As Promo Marketing explained it on Feb. 15, “An event like the Olympics captures international attention like few other things. But this shows that a well-done promotional event can capture local consumers, too. People want to celebrate their hometown, and having the Olympics is a point of local pride. The PBC (Peoples’ Bank of China) might have even underestimated just how much local pride shoppers had.”
China announced an ambitious program of Olympic coins and bank notes in 2021. It is difficult to learn how successful overseas sales have been, but domestically the PBC has failed to keep up with demand despite a second “batch” of coins, as the bank explains it, that was minted to accommodate consumers.
According to an anonymous PBC employee, “Even so, many people said they failed to get a set due to the high demand. I feel the public’s fever for the Beijing 2022 commemorative coins and bank notes became remarkably strong after the start of the Winter Olympics. People’s love for Bing Dwen Dwen (the mascot for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games) also improved the development of commemorative coins at banks.”
The employee continued, “As the beautiful coins and bank notes have commemorative significance, they are likely to see scope for appreciation.”
An Industrial and Commercial Bank of China spokesman added, “The public’s fever for the Beijing 2022 commemorative coins and bank notes surged after the Winter Olympics kicked off and we have received a lot of inquiries every day.”
The coin sets consist of two legal tender 5-yuan coins featuring ice and snow sports. HK$20 bank notes were issued by the Bank of China (Hong Kong) on which appears a vignette of the Beijing Winter Olympic Games logo, Bank of China Tower in Hong Kong and snowflakes as well as various Olympic winter sport events.
The PBC reported about 189.83 million two-coin sets were reserved in November 2021, this representing 94.94 percent of the number of coin sets ordered. All these sets sold out within three days of their release. The bank notes were less popular, with 68.84 percent of those notes on hand reported to be pre-sold by subscription.
A second production run was ordered by the PBC, 99.23 percent of the coins and 80.48 percent of the bank notes being pre-sold. The bank said about 1.267 million coin sets and 2,506 million bank notes were made available in Beijing.
The coins being demanded by the public are composed of base metals and should not be confused with the gold and silver content commemorative Chinese coins marking the Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympic Games or commemoratives marking the Beijing Winter Olympic Games. The Paralympic Games coins consist of a gold 80 yuan and a rectangular shape silver 5-yuan. The Beijing Games precious metal set consists of nine coins and features a 60-millimeter diameter 150 gram 2,000-yuan commemorative with a mintage of 1,000 pieces.