RIO DE JANEIRO — A curious scene replays itself day after day at these 2016 Summer Olympics.
At each medals ceremony, as the athletes receive gold, silver and bronze, they are also handed something that looks like a paperweight.
“A lot of people are asking about that,” said Christy Nicolay, a Rio 2016 executive. “They want to know, ‘What is that thing?’”
The small, colorful sculpture mounted on a green base is the official logo of the Games, and there is a reason it has become part of the ceremonies.
In the past, winners have been given a bouquet of flowers along with their medals, but the organizing committee here questioned that tradition.
“Sometimes the winners just throw the flowers away right after,” said Nicolay, the executive producer of sport presentations.
That seemed like a waste, so Rio officials went looking for an alternative. They considered various ideas, including bracelets fashioned from dried twigs.
Then someone brought up the logo.
Its looping design mimics the shape of the city’s famed Sugarloaf Mountain and incorporates the green, yellow and blue of the Brazilian flag. Rio 2016 claims it is the first three-dimensional logo in Olympic history.
The idea for the small sculpture was born.
“We don’t have a funny name for it or anything,” Nicolay said.
Throughout these Games, more than 2,000 athletes will have stepped onto the podium, so the manufacture of medals and the sculptures that accompany them was a substantial undertaking.
For the medals, Rio 2016 officials struck 683 golds and an equal number of silvers. They needed 736 bronzes because some sports, such as wrestling, award two third-places instead of having their semifinal losers fight it out.
An additional 50 of each medal were made to accommodate instances such as the men’s 100-meter butterfly in which three swimmers — including Michael Phelps — tied for second.
The logo sculptures were created in similar numbers, totaling 2,252 overall.
Nicolay said any extras will be distributed to museums and the International Olympic Committee when the Games end.