Paris' Olympic Medals Feature a Little Something Special

Yep, that's an actual piece of the Eiffel Tower going home with victorious athletes
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 8, 2024 12:00 PM CST
Paris' Olympic Medals Feature a Little Something Special
The Paris 2024 Olympic gold medal is presented to the press, in Paris, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024. A hexagonal, polished piece of iron taken from the Eiffel Tower is being embedded in each gold, silver, and bronze medal that will be hung around athletes' necks at the Games.   (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

An Olympic medal with an inlaid piece of the Eiffel Tower. How's that for a monumental prize? A hexagonal, polished chunk of iron taken from the iconic landmark is being embedded in each gold, silver, and bronze medal that will be hung around athletes' necks at the July 26-Aug. 11 Paris Games and Paralympics that follow. By making history at the Games, Paris medalists will take a bit of France and its history home, too. The AP takes a deep dive into the revolutionary medals that Paris organizers unveiled Thursday:

  • Are these really Eiffel Tower chunks? Absolutely. The iron pieces embedded in the Olympic medals were cut from girders and other bits that were swapped out during renovations, according to Joachim Roncin, head of design for the Paris Games organizing panel. "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?'" Roncin said. The company agreed.

  • How were the chunks prepared? They were stripped of paint, polished, varnished, and stamped with "Paris 2024" and the Games logo—as well as either the five Olympic rings or the Paralympic logo of three swooshes. Around the iron pieces are disks of gold, silver, or bronze. Games organizers say the metal is all recycled, not newly mined.
  • Are Paris' medals unique? Yes. Olympic medals have tended to be quite sober. In a first, medals for the 2008 Beijing Olympics contained inlaid jade disks. But Paris is the only host to include chunks of a famous monument. "We wanted to add this French touch," Roncin said. The ancient Greek goddess of victory, Nike, features on the medals' other side—as she has at every Games since 1928. But Paris also added a small representation of the Eiffel Tower on that side, in another break with tradition.
  • By the numbers: The Paris Mint is manufacturing 5,084 medals—about 2,600 for the Olympics and 2,400 for the Paralympics. Spares will be stored in case medals need to be reassigned after the Games or go to museums. They'll come in a dark-blue box from designer Chaumet and a certificate from the Eiffel Tower Operating Co. saying that the iron pieces came from the monument.
(More 2024 Paris Olympics stories.)

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