Rio 2016

Olympic Medalists Aren't Getting Flowers in Rio for a Specific Reason

Olympic Medalist Flowers Rio 2016
Getty Images

From the deep purple bruises from cupping to disconcerting green swimming pool water, several mysteries have left casual viewers of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio scratching their heads. And while we've already found explanations for why athletes bite their medals and why Michael Phelpslaughed during the national anthem, another minor mystery has emerged: why don't medalists receive flowers anymore?

In the days since the opening ceremony, several Olympics broadcast viewers have paused, mustered up their best Jerry Seinfeld impression, and said, "What's the deal with the lack of flowers at Rio?" OK, maybe not that exactly, but quite a few people have voiced their curiosity on the matter via Twitter:

As at least one of the perplexed Twitter users points out, you'd think they'd be passing out tons of tropical flower bouquets in a fertile country like Brazil. But it turns out the lack of floral gifts for medalists has to do with sustainability at the Games.

Specifically, when reached by phone on Wednesday, a Rio 2016 spokesperson said handing out tropical flowers to the athletes -- which would later be thrown away -- would be wasteful and not sustainable. Instead, each medalist is given a colorful sculpture of the Rio Olympics logo and some flowers are included on the stage when medals are awarded. What's perhaps even more interesting is that the decision makes Rio 2016 the first Olympics to do away with flower bouquets for athletes, the spokesperson said. Whoa.

Considering the opening ceremony's huge focus on sustainability, the move actually makes sense. Flowers wilt and die, but athletes can treasure their Rio logo statuette with their medals forever. 

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Tony Merevick is Cities News Editor at Thrillist and would definitely prefer a Rio figurine over flowers. Send news tips to news@thrillist.com and follow him on Twitter @tonymerevick.