None, they are not edible, the Olympic medals. As if someone seriously believed that. Nevertheless, a surprising number of gold medal winners bite into their round discs. Reason enough that the organizers of the Olympic Games in Tokyo specifically point out: “We hereby officially confirm: The Tokyo 2020 medals are not suitable for consumption!” that were specially donated by the Japanese. “You don’t have to bite,” the message says. “However, we assume that you will do it anyway.”
So why does even the German dressage rider Jessica von Bredow-Werndl take a hearty bite? Certainly not to test whether the gold medal is actually made of gold. Of course she doesn’t. It is made of silver and is only thinly gold-plated. That’s why the teeth don’t leave any bite marks, which they used to do when you bit on a real gold coin. In this way it was possible to check how much of the relatively soft precious metal was actually in it. The 5000 medals to be awarded in Tokyo contain only 32 kilograms of gold, but 3500 kilograms of silver and 2200 kilograms of bronze, which were obtained from 6.2 million old smartphones.
The last Olympic gold gold medals were awarded at the 1912 Stockholm Games. It is not known whether one of the Olympians, such as the German swimmer Walter Bathe, did a gold test with his teeth. Exactly 60 years later, however, John Akii-Bua from Uganda, allegedly the first Olympic athlete, bit down after his victory over the 400 meters at the Games in Munich. Why is not known. In any case, the Tokyo medals don’t taste like chocolate either, which swimming star Michael Phelps once claimed when he was asked why he had bitten into each of his 23 (!) Won gold medals.
Even the president of the International Society of Olympic Historians, the American David Wallechinsky, cannot explain the biting. It is probably just an obsession with press photographers, who think that pictures of athletes showing their teeth while they supposedly chew on their medals are “iconic” and can thus be better brought to the man or woman. Wallechinsky is even sure that no athlete would think of biting his medal on his own if he wasn’t asked to do so by the photographers.
Some athletes apparently bite into the precious metal on their own: tennis player Rafael Nadal, for example, regularly hits his teeth in the winner’s cup at the French Open, the Coupe des Mousquetaires. But maybe that’s a completely different story.