The Tokyo Olympics are in full swing in Japan, with Team GB having made their most successful start to a Games ever.
Those watching the Olympics at home will be accustomed to triumphant athletes posing on the podium, but what many are wondering is why some bite on their medals while posing for photographs after being presented with them.
The habit has caused flummoxed viewers to take to social media, with the official Olympics committee even posting a tongue-in-cheek message to athletes reminding them not to.
Read more: When does the Olympics end and when is the Toyko 2020 closing ceremony?
The Tokyo Organising Committee wrote: “We just want to officially confirm that the #Tokyo2020 medals are not edible!
“Our gold, silver and bronze medals are made from material recycled from electronic devices donated by the Japanese public.
“So, you don’t have to bite them… but we know you still will #UnitedByEmotion.”
In another tweet they shared a picture of athletes chowing down on their medals on the third day of the Games and joked: “You got to take the wrapper off first to get to the chocolate on the inside!
“A huge congratulations to every medallist, athlete, official, volunteer, and the fans who made today special.”
It’s left many wondering why athletes do it in the first place. Here’s what we know.
Why do Olympic athletes bite their medals?
Traditionally, as gold is more malleable than other metals, biting down on it was a way to check its authenticity. This is because teeth marks would have left an indentation.
But, of course, that’s not why athletes do it now.
Instead the gesture is more about what the medal symbolises, as well as providing a cracking photo opportunity.
“It’s become an obsession with the photographers,” David Wallechinsky, president of the International Society of Olympic Historians, told CNN.
“I think they look at it as an iconic shot, as something that you can probably sell. I don’t think it’s something the athletes would probably do on their own.”
How are the Olympic medals made?
For the Tokyo Olympics, all the metals are created from small electronic devices donated by the Japanese public as part of the Tokyo 2020 Medal Project.
A statement on the Olympics website reads: “In the two years between April 2017 and March 2019, 100 percent of the metals required to manufacture the approximately 5,000 gold, silver and bronze medals were extracted from small electronic devices contributed by people from all over Japan.
“Every single medal to be awarded to athletes during the Tokyo 2020 Games is made from recycled metals.”
It continued: “We hope that our project of recycling small consumer electronics and our efforts to contribute to an environmentally-friendly and sustainable society will form part of the legacy of the Tokyo 2020 Games.”
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