Tokyo turns e-waste into Olympics medals

Tokyo Olympics organisers this week called on the Japanese public to donate old smartphones and other electronic devices to make medals for the 2020 Games.

In a push to give the Olympics an environmentally friendly hue, Tokyo’s organising committee is aiming to collect eight tonnes of gold, silver and bronze at recycling bins across Japan from April, officials said, to make 5 000 Olympic and Paralympic medals.

Tokyo 2020 said e-waste such as digital cameras and laptops can also be donated at collection boxes in more than 2 000 stores of mobile phone giant and Olympics sponsor NTT Docomo.

Recycled metals have been used in previous years to make Olympic medals, including in Rio last year, where recycled materials made up 30% of the silver and bronze medals.

“An Olympic medal is one of the most coveted items in existence,” said American Olympic decathlete champion Ashton Eaton.

Organisers insisted they would try to keep costs as low as possible with Tokyo’s preparations for the Games, which is plagued by concerns about soaring prices.

Experts had warned the total Games budget could hit an eye-watering $30-billion – four times the initial estimate. In response, organisers unveiled in December a streamlined budget of just under $17-billion.

Officials will be hoping for smoother progress in the run-up to 2020 after a series of embarrassing gaffes since beating Madrid and Istanbul in the race to host the Olympics.

Claims of plagiarism forced them to ditch the Olympic logo, before French prosecutors investigated how Tokyo won its bid. Japanese Olympic officials deny any wrongdoing. – AFP

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