If you've been paying close attention to the Olympics—not just to Rio 2016, but to past years as well—you may have noticed that medal winners typically receive something in addition to that coveted circle of metal: flowers. This tradition dates way back to ancient Greece, when winners were gifted with wreaths of olive leaves, which today have been replaced by the bouquet of flowers. Or, rather, up until this year they had been replaced by flowers—at the Rio Olympics, medalists have been getting tiny statues instead of the usual bouquet. The reason why Olympians are getting statues is actually pretty amazing: it's for sustainability purposes.
It's not exactly rocket science to figure out that flowers aren't the most environmentally friendly gift. Christy Nicolay, the executive producer of the victory ceremonies, told the New York Times that flowers are "not very sustainable," adding, "We give it to an athlete, and very often they just throw it away." Even if that weren't the case, flowers aren't a permanent gift—they would wilt and get thrown away sooner or later. That won't happen with statues.
As with everything in life, some people are not fans of the change, but personally, I think this is a great move. I'm obviously not an Olympic athlete, but if I was, I would definitely want a souvenir that represents the games I participated in. What could be a better memento than a little figurine of the logo from that Olympics? Okay, so I guess the medal would be pretty great, but still. When you consider that the Rio Games logo is the first to be designed in 3-D, it makes it even more appropriate. I'm just saying, I would love to have one of these little guys on my shelf, and if any of the athletes don't want theirs, I will gladly take it off their hands.
What's more, the statues are just one of many ways this year's Olympics promotes sustainability. For example, the opening ceremony featured a warning about climate change, and each athlete was given a tree seed to plant in a new forest. Given that, it seems like a logical step to not want to waste a lot of flowers, and to look for a more permanent solution. It's worth nothing that there are some flowers onstage when winners receive their medals, so spectators can still get their floral fix (if that's even a thing).
Overall, I think these statues were an awesome solution, and by awarding them to recipients of medals, the Rio Olympics really put sustainability front and center.
Images: Giphy (2)