What’s in a Tokyo 2020 medal? Old phones, discarded cameras

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The Organizing Committee of Tokyo's 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games has been busy collecting old phones, cameras and other gadgets since April 2017, to smash up and recycle the precious metals into medals.

Thanks to "huge levels of support", the committee said in a statement on Friday that they expected to reach the quotas by the end of March. Almost 50,000 tons of devices, including cameras, games consoles and laptops, plus more than five million smartphones, were collected for the Old Metals New Medals project across Japan over 18 months since it opened. They hit the target for bronze last June, and by October had more than 90 percent of the gold and 85 percent of the silver.

The recycled metal has been collected from the Japanese public as well as businesses and industry.

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In order to achieve this goal, Japan had to set targets for the amounts of each metal that it needed to collect: 5,950 pounds of bronze, 9,000 pounds of silver, and 67 pounds of gold.

The release from organisers confirmed that over five million mobile phones had been handed in, contributing to nearly 50,000 tons of devices.

Later this year, after the recycling program concludes, the Olympic committee will reveal the design of the 2020 medals.

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The concept has been implemented in previous Olympics, most recently at Rio 2016, where an estimated 30% of the silver and bronze medals were wrought from recycled materials.

Sports Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore has promised "surgical" precision in distribution of funds to athletes preparing for the 2020 Olympic Games, asserting that centralisation of the process has made bureaucratic hurdles a thing of past.

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