Olympic gold-medal winners in Sochi on Feb. 15 will earn another prize: an extra medal with a piece of the meteorite that struck the Russian city of Chelyabinsk on the same date this year.
Chunks of the meteorite that hit the Ural Mountains region will be “chipped off and inserted into the medals,” according to Chelyabinsk Region Culture Minister Alexei Betekhtin in a statement.
“We will hand out our medals to all the athletes who will win gold on that day, because both the meteorite strike and the Olympic Games are the global events,” Betekhtin said, according to R-Sport.
Five months ago, a bus-sized meteor exploded with the force of 20 atomic bombs across western Siberia, injuring more than 1,000 people around the city of one million, according to The Associated Press.
It also damaged many buildings, including a speedskating arena used during the World Cup season.
So, which athletes could receive these special medals?
Seven medal events will be contested on Feb. 15 among Alpine skiing (women’s super-G), cross-country skiing (women’s 4×5-kilometer relay), short-track speedskating (women’s 1,000 meters and men’s 1,500), skeleton (men), ski jumping (men’s large hill) and speedskating (men’s 1,500).
Two decorated Americans have a chance at meteorite medals. Lindsey Vonn is the reigning Olympic bronze medalist in the women’s super-G. U.S. speedskater Shani Davis is the reigning Olympic silver medalist and world silver medalist in the 1,500.
History of track sprinters racing animals
Tokyo 2020 venues for the new Olympic sports of baseball, softball, karate, skateboarding, sport climbing and surfing were approved by the International Olympic Committee on Wednesday.
That brings the total number of Tokyo 2020 venues to 39, with the potential for more.
The venues for new sports:
Baseball/softball — Yokohama Stadium (20 miles south of Tokyo)
Karate — Nippon Budokan
Skateboarding and Sport Climbing — Aomi Urban Sports Venue
Surfing — Tsurigasaki Beach
All of the new sports do not currently have a spot on the Olympic program beyond 2020 (baseball and softball were previously on the Olympic program before being taken off after Beijing 2008).
Agenda 2020 reforms allowed Olympic host cities to propose the addition of sports for their Games only, which is what Tokyo 2020 did to get them on the program.
The Tokyo Olympic venues are split between two zones — the Heritage Zone and the Tokyo Bay Zone — that are separated by the Olympic Village.
Tokyo 2020 and FIFA are still discussing the finalization of soccer venues. There are currently six, including two in Tokyo and one as far away as Sapporo (650 miles north).
Tokyo 2020 and the World Baseball Softball Confederation are still discussing the potential of adding a second baseball-softball venue in Fukushima prefecture, the site of 2011 nuclear plant meltdowns caused by an earthquake and tsunami. Fukushima is about 150 miles north of Tokyo.
The Tokyo Dome, home of the Yomiuri Giants and several MLB and World Baseball Classic games, is not a 2020 Olympic venue.
MORE: Tokyo 2020 Olympic volleyball venue could be moved
Comcast and the U.S. Olympic Committee signed an agreement making Comcast an official partner of the USOC through the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The deal allows Comcast and its brands to use Team USA marks in advertising and marketing, including the Olympic Rings.
More information is in this Comcast press release.
Comcast NBC Universal holds the U.S. media rights for the Olympics through 2032.
MORE: NBC Sports to air USA Track and Field events through 2024