Paris Olympic Medals Include Real Iron from the Eiffel Tower
Each Olympic Games, both winter and summer, have their own distinct identity. They have mascots, they have logos, and they have medals. Obviously, winning an Olympic medal is the pinnacle of achievement for many athletes, so that creates value in itself. But, the organizers in each host city go above and beyond to make sure the medals are memorable and reflect the spirit of the location.
This summer, when the Olympics come to Paris, medalists will receive medals complete with real iron from the iconic Eiffel Tower.
Medals designed by a French Jeweller, located in the heart of Paris. Manufactured at the French mint, the same mint where the 1924 Olympic Medals were manufactured. Each medal adorned with the strongest symbol of Paris and France around the world, the Eiffel Tower.
— Team Ireland (@TeamIreland) February 8, 2024
In previous years, we've reported on the specific design elements of the medals, such as in Rio when Paralympic medals included small devices inside that visually-impaired athletes could shake for a distinct sound connected to the medal type. In Tokyo, the medals included recycled cell phones.
This summer, each medal includes an 18 gram piece of iron cut from pieces of the tower during its routine maintenance and renovations. (After all, as the AP points out, the tower was originally only intended to stand for 20 years, so it requires regular upkeep.)
"We realized that there’s one symbol known across the world, which is the Eiffel Tower,” Joachim Roncin, head of design at the Paris Olympic Games organizing committee told the AP. “We said to ourselves, ‘Hey, what if we approached the Eiffel Tower Operating Co. to see if it’s possible to get a bit of the Eiffel Tower to integrate into the medal?’”
They could. And the pieces were stripped of paint, polished, and varnished for inclusion in the medal. Each piece is also stamped with the Paris 2024 logo. And, as so many awards and trophies have hidden design Easter eggs, the iron pieces are cut into hexagons, referencing the nickname the French have for the shape of the country—"L'Hexagone." The iron pieces are held onto the medal with six clasps, representing the 2.5 million rivets holding the Eiffel Tower together, too.
Finally, continuing the trend of sustainability, the organizers said that the metal used are recycled, rather than newly-mined.
“Having a gold medal is already something incredible, but we wanted to add this French touch and we thought that the Eiffel Tower would be this cherry on the top,” Roncin said. “Having a piece of it is a piece of history.”