Finally, the 2020 Olympics appear to be about to begin (at the time that this is being written).

The Tokyo Olympics will have 339 medal events. Approximately 5,000 medals have been minted. The medals are made from recycled materials.

This year, for the first time in recent memory and due to COVID concerns, athletes will be putting their medals around their own necks.

According to International Olympic Committee regulations, each medal must contain a depiction of Nike (the Greek goddess of victory, not the swoosh), the official name of the Games  (eg. XXXII Olympiad Tokyo 2020) and the Olympic five rings symbol.

Although the medals are probably priceless to the winner, they do have an actual value. The cost of the materials used to make the medals is said to be $1,010 CDN for a gold medal, $640 CDN for a silver medal, and $5 CDN for a bronze medal. The gold medal contains six grams of gold plating over silver, the silver medal is all silver, and the bronze medal is made of brass. The Olympic Committee stopped giving out pure gold medals after the 1912 Olympics.

The medals clearly have a value beyond their cost to produce. Most notably, one of Jesse Owens’ 4 gold medals from the 1936 Berlin Olympics was sold in 2013 for over $1.4m US.

On eBay, an original silver medal from the 1906 Olympic Games is available for $15,289 CDN. Replica medals from most Olympic Games are available on eBay for about $35.00 CDN.

In addition to having value in and of themselves, Olympic medals often come with a hefty bonus from the winner’s country. Singaporean winners get $1m, $500,000 or $250,000 US for bringing home a gold, silver or bronze medal. Canadian winners get $20,000, $15,000 or $10,000 depending on where they are on the podium.

For the intriguing story of the 1972 Olympic gold medal basketball game and what lead to a term in the will of competitor Kenny Davis prohibiting his descendants from ever accepting the silver medal from the 1972 Games, see Ian Hull’s blog, here.

May you be faster, higher, stronger this weekend.

Paul Trudelle