Here's why Rio Olympic champions are given a small trophy with their medals

The official logo has been turned into a trinket designed to replace the traditional bouquet of flowers

Rio, Olympics, Summer Games, 2016, Dilma Rousseff, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva

Sarah Elizabeth Robles, of the United States, wears her bronze medal during the award ceremony for the women's 75kg weightlifting competition at the 2016 Summer Olympics [AP Photo/Mike Groll]

At both the summer and winter Olympic Games, when the medallists take to the podium, tradition has dictated that along with the pendulum of previous metal hanging from their neck, the winners are usually rewarded with a bouquet of flowers. But you may have spotted that in the 31st games currently taking place in Rio, they’ve been handed a small model of the official logo instead. And it’s all down to environmentalism.

The decision, which will also take place during the Paralympics in September, is part of the Rio organising committee’s pledge to reduce the heavy carbon footprint of the world’s biggest sporting event. As part of its sustainability initiative Abraça, the Brazilian Portuguese for ‘Embrace’, the organisers have vowed to reduce the amount of energy, water, food, and raw materials that are used up across the 45 days of both events.

Rio officials have estimated that the various Olympic venues will draw approximately 29,500 megawatts of electrical power from the Brazilian network, which comes in at double the capacity of the country’s huge Itaipu hydroelectric dam. The vehicles used to transport competitors, judges, and members of the IOC around the city will work through 23.5m litres of petrol and diesel, enough to fill the tanks of almost half a million Honda Civics.

A green approach was even applied to the production of almost 2,500 Olympic medals (812 gold, 812 silver, 864 bronze), which were forged from materials from sustainable sources. All of the first-place medals are made from gold extracted without the use of mercury, while the silver and bronze medallions are made from 30% recycled metals. Even the brightly coloured ribbons from which the medals hang are made from recycled plastic bottles.

And it is also why the traditional bouquets of flowers, which are usually thrown to spectators, have been scrapped. “In the interest of sustainability and innovation, it was decided that flowers would not be awarded to medal winners at this Olympic Games,” a spokesman said.

Designed by Brazilian graphic designer Fred Gelli and his design studio Tátil, the Rio 2016 logo shows three figures in green, yellow, and blue (the colours of the country’s flag) joining hands and feet. Beating out almost 140 other logos,  Gelli’s design reflects Brazilian culture as a whole, while also incorporating the curves of Rio’s iconic Sugarloaf Mountain.

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