Beijing Unveils Olympic Medals In Gold And Jade

Tuesday, March 27th 2007, 9:41 am
By: News On 6

BEIJING (AP) _ Gold and jade _ which signify honor and virtue in Chinese culture _ have been unveiled as the two key elements in the 2008 Beijing Olympic medals.

The winning design for the gold medal centers on three components in a center circle: the Beijing Olympic logo, the five Olympic rings and ``Beijing 2008.'' This inner circle is surrounded by a ring of jade with a gold-plated rim on the outside.

The medals were unveiled at a one-hour ceremony in the Capital Museum on Tuesday, welcomed with folk music, rock music and a shower of gold confetti.

The gold, silver and bronze medals will carry the same design, with a finer white jade in the gold medal, a slightly darker shade in the silver medal, and a green jade in the bronze medal. The flip side of the medal carries a design based on the roots of the Olympics in Greece.

Officials said 265 design proposals were received from inside China and worldwide, with a nine-member panel picking the winner.

``The panel was looking for something that unmistakably was associated with China, and everyone agreed jade was that symbol,'' said Clinton Dines, a member of the panel and president of the China division of BHP Billiton.

Australia-based BHP Billiton is an Olympic sponsor and the world's largest mining company, with revenue in 2006 of $39.1 billion.

``The elegant design represents Chinese culture and the Olympic spirit,'' said Jiang Xiaoyu, another judge and an executive vice president of the Beijing organizing committee.

Officials said the winning entry came from a design team at the Beijing Central Academy of Fine Arts.

Dines said about 6,000 athletes' medals would be made for the Games, with the design for the Paralympic medals announced later this year.

The jade would come from China, with BHP Billiton providing the other materials, Dines said.

``We will provide those materials from a variety of our operations around the world,'' Dines said. ``We have a wide range of mines.''

Dines said the medals would be slightly heavier and larger than other Olympics medals, with the average medal weighing about five ounces. Beijing officials want the 2008 Summer Games to be unique, and spending on them is dwarfing previous Olympics.

He added that fitting the jade into the medal would be a complex task.

``If you force it (jade) into a metal situation it will be brittle and break,'' Dines said. ``They have done a lot of clever work in designing that piece of jade into it.''