Tokyo 2020's ’old metals into new medals' initiative got a welcome boost from athletes taking part in the Japan Open 2017 swimming event at the Tokyo Tatsumi International Swimming Centre today.
The project is aimed at recovering precious metals from discarded and obsolete electronic devices such as smartphones and laptops, and reusing these in the production of athletes' medals for the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020. As well as giving the wider public an opportunity to play a role in the Games' preparation, the initiative is helping to promote sustainability and reduce costs.
On hearing of the project, a number of Japanese and overseas swimmers competing in the Japan Open 2017 brought along their old or discarded devices to donate.
British swimmers Ben Proud and Abbie Wood plus Japanese swimming team captains Kosuke Hagino and Sakiko Shimizu were among those who brought along their discarded devices. A short poolside ceremony was held to mark the donations and to highlight the aims of the project.
Said Proud, who holds two British national records, “In this day and age, the phone is part of you. So, for people to be donating phones to be made into these medals, it's getting the nation altogether and you're giving part of yourself to the Olympic Games.” He added, “We're getting to the point where our generation needs to think about the next step, our future... so being able to recycle these phones that maybe get lost in cupboards or don't get touched for years is a great way to re-utilise them and make them into something that's going to be as important as... the Olympic Games.”
Added Hagino, a four-time Olympic medallist commented, “I think it is a great initiative, which makes the medals even more meaningful to those who receive them. I hope many people will take part in this project, and when they see the medal ceremonies at the Tokyo 2020 Games, they might think 'those medals came from my phones.' I think it will make them feel more involved in the Olympic Games. It makes me want to work even harder to win such special medals.”
It is hoped this public show of support for the project from sporting heroes will help to boost awareness across the globe and encourage further donations. The programme is running nationwide in Japan, with collection centres in municipal facilities and in NTT DOCOMO stores. The progress of the Tokyo 2020 Medal Project will be updated on a regular basis.