LONDON — Not even the top Olympic athletes will be bringing home the gold this summer. The International Olympic Committee has announced that it is abandoning the standard gold medal traditionally presented to the winner of each event. The top finishers in London will instead receive a piece of paper that has the full backing of the IOC and is legal tender for bragging at bars and for trying to impress potential romantic partners.
As the winner’s national anthem plays over the loudspeaker, an official will pin the paper medal, known as the fiat, to his or her chest like a boutonnière.
“Gold, pyrite, paper, whatever,” a Chinese Olympic official said, “I don’t care what it’s made of as long as we win the most. Did you know China invented paper? We’re kind of a big deal.”
Olympiad originalists intent on preserving the Games unchanged since their founding in 776 BC are vowing to return to the standard gold medal by Sochi 2014.
“This is a recipe for rampant medal inflation,” cried a Greek Olympic official. “Next thing you know they’ll be giving out two, three, sixteen fiat medals for each event.”
A German official quietly took him aside and told him that big boy countries know how to manage their resources better than that.
The first and second runners-up will still receive silver and bronze medals as before, only now they will have the option to roll them up in packs of 10 and trade them in for paper medals at their local stadium.