The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Committee Unveils Its Medal Design

Designer Junichi Kawanishi created the most sustainable trophy in the Games’s history.

Designer Junichi Kawanishi created the most sustainable trophy in the Games’s history.

The Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games are well underway, with the organizing committee unveiling the design of the elusive, highly-coveted medals. The brainchild of Junichi Kawanishi—the Japanese native and director of the Japan Sign Design Association and the Osaka Design Society—bested 400 other entries in a pool comprised of professional designers and design students. “I never dreamed that the design I submitted, only as a memorial to this lifetime event, would be actually selected,” he said in a statement. “With their shining rings, I hope the medals will be seen as paying tribute to the athletes’ efforts, reflecting their glory and symbolizing friendship.”

Resembling rough stones with an intense, deep polish, the medals are meant to emphasize light and brilliance, keeping to the spirit of competition and camaraderie that has become part and parcel with the global event. Following the International Olympic Committee guidelines, each of these prized tokens feature Nike, the winged Greek goddess of victory, on the front, and the five Olympic rings on the back. They measure three and a half inches in diameter and a half-inch in thickness, and are hung on ribbons inspired by kimono-layering techniques.

Tokyo 2020 Olympic medals. (Photo via

“I am convinced that Japanese metal molding techniques and the superb design have combined well, and that we have the best medal in the world—one that we can be proud of,” said Ryohei Miyata, chair of Tokyo 2020’s medal design selection panel. “There is also a beautiful balance between the design of the medals and their ribbons. It makes me want to strive for a medal myself.”

More significant, the organizing committee sourced recycled metals from local communities, accumulating about 70 pounds of gold, 7,716 pounds of silver, and 4,850 pounds of bronze from 78,895 tons of gadgets, including phones and other electronics. The Tokyo Games marks the first time that these emblems of honor are 100 percent sustainable.

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