An Olympic athlete who won a silver medal at the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2021 has complained about the quality of the metal used, saying it has turned into ‘scrap’ after just two years.
According to the Tokyo Olympics official website, the medals were made out of pure gold, silver and copper extracted from home appliances and used mobile phones that Japan began collecting in April 2017.
But Chinese kayaker Zheng Pengfei criticised the claim while posting a picture of the medal he was given, which shows its looks to have seriously deteriorated.
The piece, which is supposed to be silver, and which Pengfei won in the Men’s Canoe Double 1000m at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games held in 2021, lost its shine after the athlete showed how it had apparently oxidised and darkened in several areas.
He shared his disappointment in a social media post, saying the medal was “scrap iron”.
Pengfei reportedly wrote: “I have kept this Olympic medal at home for nearly two years. I took it out today [July 16th] and saw that it was just like this.
“It has become scrap iron. Time has proved that it is made of scraps.
“The quality of any domestic competition medal is better than this one.”
Although Pengfei admitted he did not take any particular care when storing the piece, he said it was “one of the few oxidised medals” of his.
Some internet users pointed out the medal is purely symbolic.
But others questioned the medal’s actual value and meaning if its quality is so poor.
Pengfei is not the first athlete to complain about the “poor quality” of Tokyo Olympic medals.
In August 2021, Zhu Xueying, the women’s trampoline champion of the Tokyo Olympics, shared a post saying that the surface of her gold medal had “peeled off”.
In response to her, the Tokyo Olympic Organising Committee claimed the peeled-off part was not gold-plated, but a layer of coating on the surface of the medal, which “does not affect the quality of the medal itself.”
They went on to further claim that its surface was coated with a thin film meant to prevent small scratches, dents and stains on the medal.
The incident also brought to mind the story of a Russian gymnast who won a medal at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. It was said that despite a fire that destroyed almost everything at her home, her gold medal was intact.
As of March 2019, approximately 78,000 tonnes of used small electronic devices and 6.21 million used mobile phones had been collected to make the medals.
The Tokyo Olympic Organising Committee reportedly implemented this measure to demonstrate their commitment to “sustainable development.”