Thank you for allowing me an opportunity to answer your interesting question.
Right or wrong, many people share your opinion. Winning an Olympic
event should, perhaps, earn the winner a reward commensurate with the
achievement. However, the Olympic committee?s position on this issue
is, and always has been, that the honor of winning an event is more
prestigious than any award given to the winner.
The original Olympic Charter, written by French educational reformer,
Pierre de Coubertin, and the 1896 International Olympic Committee,
listed only four general goals in the offering and presentation of the
Olympic games (note that none of them involve rewards or recognition
of any kind):
?1. To promote the development of those physical and moral qualities
that are the basis of sport.
2. To educate young people through sport in a spirit of better
understanding between each other and of friendship, thereby helping to
build a better and more peaceful world.
3. To spread the Olympic principles throughout the world, thereby
creating international goodwill; and
4. To bring together the athletes of the world for sports festival
every four years: the Olympic Games.?
THE OLYMPIC GAMES, EDUCATION AND CRISIS IN THE 21ST CENTURY
The issue of rewarding athletes was (and still is) secondary to the
games themselves. When the Charter was first drafted, of course,
billions of dollars were not being expended on the Olympics. The
Charter as it reads today is much the same as it was then. With regard
to awards, in Chapter 5, Rule 70, paragraph 2 of the Charter, which is
entitled "Medals and Diplomas", it states:
?2.1 For the individual events, the first prize shall be a silver
gilt medal and a diploma, the second prize a silver medal and a
diploma, and the third prize a bronze medal and a diploma. The medals
must mention the sport and the event for which they are awarded, and
be fastened to a detachable chain or ribbon so as to be placed around
the athlete?s neck. Competitors who will have placed fourth, fifth,
sixth, seventh and eighth shall also receive a diploma, but no medal.
In the case of a tie for a first, second or third place, each
competitor is entitled to a medal and a diploma.?
?2.2 The medals shall be at least 60mm in diameter and 3mm thick. The
medals for first and second places shall be of silver of at least
925-1000 grade; the medal for first place shall be gilded with at
least 6g of pure gold.?
?2.4 For team sports, and for team events in other sports, each
member of the winning team having taken part in at least one match or
competition during the Olympic Games is entitled to a silver gilt
medal and a diploma, each member of the second team to a silver medal
and a diploma, and each member of the third team to a bronze medal and
a diploma. The other members of these teams are entitled only to a
diploma. The members of a team placed fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh
and eighth shall receive a diploma.?
OLYMPIC CHARTER ? FULL TEXT
This practice has not changed. We should recall that in previous time
the winners and placeholders were merely presented a laurel for his
efforts. Conversely, in today?s society where achievement is often
equated with monetary value, the focus on the medal itself is a
relatively new phenomenon. As I?m sure any Olympian will agree, even
if the metal WERE solid gold, it could never equal the value of the
experience and the achievement it represents ? therefore the issue is
a moot point. Likewise, the Olympic Committee recognizes this and
believes that to offer substantially valuable rewards could undermine
the true honor and spirit of the games (competing for pay rather than
honor), thus the term ?gold medal? refers to the color and
representation of the medal as opposed to its precious metal content.
Having said that, had the medal been made of wood, the line of those
with lifelong dreams of being a world class Olympian would be just as
I hope you find that my research exceeds your expectations. If you
have any questions about my research please post a clarification
request prior to rating the answer. Otherwise I welcome your rating
and your final comments and I look forward to working with you again
in the near future. Thank you for bringing your question to us.
Tutuzdad-ga ? Google Answers Researcher
THE TRUE OLYMPIC SCANDAL
INTERNATIONAL OLYMPIC COMMITTEE
OLYMPIC CHARTER ? FULL TEXT
OLYMPIC CHARTER RULE 70
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Olympic charter, gilt
Clarification of Answer by
18 Dec 2003 14:46 PST
Sorry for the delay. After answering your question I was preparing to
leave my office (can?t spend anymore time at work than you have to,
you know). I?m back at my home office now so I can try and clear this
up for you. Let me address each of your clarification questions
1. The Olympics are designed to foster a healthy international
competitive spirit as well as individual achievement.
This is a fact. The IOC clearly states this in the Charters, both past and present.
2. The "medal" is of extremely secondary importance (very secondary)
to the achievement of winning the athletic contest itself.
I don?t know if ?extremely secondary? is the right word, since a medal
DOES represent achievement over and above mere participation. The IOC
views the medal as being secondary to the HONOR; however, each
winner?s INDIVIDUAL view of the medal is a matter of opinion. While
they clearly cherish the medal though, I?d venture to say that none of
them cherish the ?metal?.
3. The "medal" has not had its composition upgraded to pure gold
apparently because it was simply established to be a gold-coated
silver medallion. Perhaps it's just not occurred to the IOC to make
it an all-gold medal.
Oh, they?ve thought about it alright, but the idea was quickly
rejected ? and for a reason. The gold in an Olympic gold medal (which
actually consists of a sterling silver core clad in gold) is worth
just $68.10, but officials feared souvenir-hunters or counterfeiters.
They didn?t want to dishonor the purpose of award by reducing it to a
common collector?s item or a focus of bullion investment. Tony
LaChapelle, senior vice president for sales at Reed & Barton
Silversmiths, one-time maker of the Olympic medals explained it this
"To somebody who really wanted an Olympic medal, it's probably
priceless," said Tony LaChapelle, the company's senior vice president
for sales. "We make a lot of expensive things at Reed & Barton, but
the Olympic medals were very, very special, and we assured the Olympic
Committee that we would uphold the integrity of the medals to the
Boston appraiser, Richard Brodney, said, ?If they'll pay $400,000 for
Ty Cobb's baseball card, think of how much they'll pay for a medal?
The IOC clearly did not want this to happen, and to date has resisted
the solid gold medal in order to make certain that it did not.
4. What I feel wasn't addressed was this - have there been any
specific reasons they *haven't* updated the medal to solid gold? Has
anyone visibly, publicly lobbied to "upgrade" the medal?
I think the first part of your question was addressed above, so let?s
talk about the second part here. There have been some complainers
about the gilt gold medal but this has largely been informal rant on
the issue. I found no organized effort to petition the IOC to change
the way it has the medals made, but you can, if you search long
enough, find a few opinions about it:
THE TRUE OLYMPIC SCANDAL
HUGH LOEBNER?S OLYMIC GOLD MEDAL
You can see by the url that these both come from the same source, if
this is indicative of how hard detractors really are to find.
As long as the Olympic Creed is recited by participants the world
over, and it?s message is take to heart, the opponents to the gilt
medal have no leg to stand on:
"The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to
take part. Just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph
but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to
have fought well."
-- Pierre de Coubertin, co-author of the original Olympic Charter
Note the appropriate name for the site where I found this quote:
LEARN TO QUESTION
I hope this explains the issue better.
Tutuzdad ? Google Answers Researcher