A Chinese Olympic champion publicly criticised the quality of her gold medal on Monday and posted photos online that appear to show it peeling.
In a bizarre turn of events, the 23-year-old trampoline gymnast Xueying, who won the women’s individual event at the Olympic Games with a score of 56.635, posted as many as three photos of her gold medal on the social media platform Weibo that exposed an obvious peeled off deformity on the top left side, after earning the prestigious medal in Tokyo early this month.
“Let me clarify this. I didn’t mean to peel the thing off at first, I just discovered that there was a small mark (like pic one) on my medal. I thought that it was probably just dirt, so I rubbed it with my finger and found that nothing changed, so then I picked at it and the mark got bigger,” Zhang posted in a comment under the photos.
As per a news portal, the Tokyo Olympic Committee responded by saying that the deformity was likely the result of a protective coating peeling and “Even if you remove the coating, it does not directly affect the medals’ quality”.
The discussion about the gold medal expanded further after some netizens began comparing it to those made for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, which were inlaid with jade as well as plated with gold.
“I once saw a news report that said a foreign athlete [Russian gymnast Daria Valeryevna] had a fire break out in her place. Many things got burnt, but not her medal. The old Chinese saying ‘Real gold does not fear the test of fire’ holds true,” Zhang Xue, a netizen in Beijing, told the a news portal on Tuesday.
“The fact that the medals for the Tokyo Games were made from recycled materials is too experimental for me. Those medalists deserve something more valuable,” posted a netizen on Sina Weibo.
The Tokyo medals were indeed a new experiment for the Olympic Games as they were made from metal extracted from electronic devices donated by people in Japan.
Around 20 people of Japan Mint have worked on the medals’ production, the process including using machine to print the front and back sides, coloring, and so forth. The 2020 Tokyo Olympics medals have a diameter of 85 millimeters, and the weight of the gold medal is about 556 grams.
On Tuesday, Japan Mint, the medal maker for the Tokyo Games, told a News portal that it has not noticed any issues regarding layers peeling off gold medals and that the Tokyo organizing committee may conduct a further investigation into the incident
Despite the doubts about the Tokyo medals’ quality, some people said they understand Japan’s decision to use recycled materials.
“The medal’s value can be defined by the symbolic meaning behind it, not just how expensive the materials used to make it are. The same goes for China’s jade and gold medal. Japan’s recycling design actually represents the idea of sustainability and consciousness. These things are regarded as virtues in Japanese culture,” Dylan Yang, a Chinese designer, told a News portal.