Why Olympians bite their medals and what they do with them

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The sight of a jubilant Olympian standing atop the podium after being victorious in their discipline with a gold medal between their teeth is an iconic one.

We’ve seen it numerous times at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games already, across a host of disciplines.
The official Tokyo 2020 account even went as far on Sunday to try to remind people that the medals are not, in fact, edible.

“We just want to officially confirm that the #Tokyo2020 medals are not edible,” it said
“Our medals are made from material recycled from electronic devices donated by the Japanese public. So, you don’t have to bite them … but we know you still will.”

But why do these victorious athletes decide to celebrate their coronation by pretending to take a bite out of their gold medals?

David Wallechinsky, Executive Committee Member of the International Society of Olympic Historians, told CNN in 2012 that it’s probably an attempt to satisfy the media.

“It’s become an obsession with the photographers,” says Wallechinsky, co-author of “The Complete Book of the Olympics.” “I think they look at it as an iconic shot, as something that you can probably sell. I don’t think it’s something the athletes would probably do on their own.”
The phenomenon is not exclusive to the Olympics though.

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