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Beijing 2022 medal design draws on Chinese culture while echoing Olympic Spirit
Olympic plaques see culture and sportsmanship come full circle
By Ji Jing  ·  2022-01-17  ·   Source: NO.3 JANUARY 20, 2022
The reverse of the medals of the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 (XINHUA)

The medals for the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 passed the quality test and were accepted by the Games' organizing committee at the Shanghai Minting Corp. (SMC), the medals' producer, on January 7.

The medals, inspired by bi, a circular jade ceremonial disk dating back 5,000 years, are officially named Tongxin, meaning together as one.

According to Liu Ke, Chairman of the SMC, each medal has undergone 18 production processes and 20 quality inspections before its acceptance.

Meticulous design

The medals were unveiled on October 26, 2021, 100 days ahead of the opening of Beijing 2022.

Hang Hai, an associate professor of design from the Central Academy of Fine Arts, headed the design of the medals. He was also the main designer of the medals for the Olympic and Paralympic Summer Games Beijing 2008, making him the only designer in the world to have created medals for both the Winter and Summer Games.

In May 2020, the Beijing Organizing Committee for the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (BOCOG) solicited medal designs from around the world. Hang formed a team comprising several colleagues and students and set about preparing designs to submit to the BOCOG.

Medals reflect the culture and creativity of the host country, and the committee set two basic principles for their design: First, it should continue to adopt the jade culture incorporated into the design of the Beijing 2008 medals to show continuity and highlight Beijing's status as the world's first city to host both the Summer and Winter Games; second, it should embrace innovation in its design.

"The Beijing 2008 medals were inlaid with jade, breaking the convention that Olympic medals be made of a single material: gold, silver or bronze, and marking an innovation in the design of Olympic medals," Hang told People's Daily.

"The medals of both the Beijing 2008 and 2022 Games are intended to honor the athletes and the Olympic spirit with traditional jade culture," Hang said. Jade was chosen because it has been treasured in China for thousands of years, and symbolizes good virtue in Chinese culture. "The difference is that the 2008 medals used the jade as a material, while the 2022 medals embody the spirit of China's jade culture," he added.

In the process of designing the medals, one team member, Lin Fan, conducted extensive research into China's ancient bi. Lin finally chose a five-ring one associated with Fu Hao—a Shang Dynasty (c. 16th century-11th century B.C.) queen and wartime heroine—as the prototype for the medals.

In the final design, the obverse side of the medals has the Olympic rings engraved in the center, surrounded by five big concentric rings.

The five circles stand for harmony between Heaven and Earth, and unity of mankind, which are common concepts in Chinese culture that also echo the Olympic values of solidarity, inclusiveness and peace.

The words "XXIV Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022" are also inscribed on the obverse. Auspicious cloud patterns, an element used on the torch of the 2008 Games, as well as snowflakes and ice patterns are engraved between the circles.

"The cloud patterns are intended to maintain a cultural connection with the 2008 Games, while the snowflakes and ice patterns speak to the characteristics of the Winter Olympics."

On the reverse of each medal is the engraved emblem of the Beijing Winter Olympics, which is surrounded by the Chinese characters for the XXIV Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022.

There are 24 dots on the concentric circles engraved on that side, like stars in orbit. Inspired by an ancient Chinese celestial map, this pattern symbolizes the expectations for the Beijing 2022 athletes to shine like stars at the Games. Also inscribed on the reverse is the sporting event in which the medal is won.

The medal ribbons are made of silk woven with a traditional technique and their red color symbolizes good fortune in Chinese culture and is a popular color during the Spring Festival, also known as Chinese New Year. The color is also chosen to express festival greetings to athletes as the Games will begin on

February 4, during the Spring Festival holiday which runs from January 31 to February 6 this year.

The cases holding the medals are made of bamboo, which is a renewable material. "The International Olympic Committee enquired about the growth and processing of the bamboo to ensure it meets the requirements of a green Olympics and follows the concept of sustainable development," Hang said.

The Paralympic medals employ similar designs. The logo of the International Paralympic Committee is engraved at the center of the obverse of the medals, surrounded by inscriptions of Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games in English and Braille.

The emblem of the Paralympic Winter Games 2022 is engraved at the center of the reverse, surrounded by the Chinese characters for Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games. There are 13 dots on the circles on the reverse to represent the 13th Paralympic Winter Games.

Spiritual to physical

The design was first submitted to the BOCOG in June 2020 and, after more than two months, the team was informed that their work had been shortlisted.

In October 2020, the design was sent off to the SMC to make prototypes. The corporation also produced the medals for Beijing 2008, and Xie Xinrui, the engineer responsible for the 2008 medal prototypes once again worked his magic.

Xie made many trips between Shanghai and Beijing, taking prototypes back and forth to gain feedback from the design team, before returning to the mint to make the necessary adjustments.

Creating prototypes from the designs was not an easy task. Winter Olympic medals are designed to be larger than their Summer Olympic counterparts so that they appear more prominently—despite athletes' thicker clothes. After multiple tests, the design team finally set the diameter of the medal at 8.7 cm, and the length of the ribbon was also adjusted many times accordingly.

The design team placed some difficult requirements on Xie. For instance, the medals needed to be handpolished using traditional techniques to give them a special sheen on which no fingerprints could be left.

After more than one year of research, design, evaluation and redesign, the BOCOG settled on a final prototype for the medals on July 13 last year.

"The medals are the result of many people's efforts. However, the smile on the athletes' faces as they wear them makes it all worthwhile," Hang said. "The athletes might pass down the medal to their children in the future and I wish, as time goes by, people will still be able to see their beauty."

(Print Edition Title: A Badge of Honor)

Copyedited by G. P. Wilson

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