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Olympic medals placed at Tower of London for safekeeping

By Danica Kirka

Associated Press

Published: Monday, July 2 2012 11:44 a.m. MDT

Sebastian Coe, centre right, chairman of the London 2012 Organizing Committee, and Jan du Plessis, left, Rio Tinto mining company chairman, pose for the photographers holding a gold medal of the Games, during a photo op at the Tower of London, in London, Monday, July 2, 2012 The company is responsible for the production of the precious metals for the London 2012 Games, and has handed over the final Olympic and Paralympic medals to LOCOG for secure storage in the vaults at the Tower of London during the Games. The gold, silver and bronze medals which will be awarded to the athletes at Games-times, will remain there until they are needed for the Victory Ceremonies. In total, 4,700 medals have been produced and will be awarded in 805 Victory Ceremonies that will take place in over 30 London 2012 venues across the UK.

Lefteris Pitarakis, ASSOCIATED PRESS

LONDON — There's safe, and then there's Tower of London safe.

To avoid risking an ounce of precious Olympic metal, London's organizers handed over their cache of gold, silver and bronze medals to the Tower of London for safekeeping on Monday.

A fanfare of Royal Marine trumpets sounded as the 4,700 medals arrived. The Tower's famous Yeoman warders — commonly called Beefeaters — attended and acted as cheerleaders for a group of schoolchildren waving flags.

The Tower protects Britain's most valuable treasures, including the Crown Jewels. And though the Olympic medals are precious, using a London landmark in this fashion is almost like starting the 100 meters by sounding the bongs of Big Ben.

But there's a larger wish at hand: Britain has been eager to promote its tourist attractions as part of the games taking place from July 27-Aug. 12.

Monday's medal handover comes only days after London suspended the Olympic rings from nearby Tower Bridge, emphasizing the intersection between the city and the world's most recognizable symbol and hammering home that the games are less than a month away.

The medals, mined in Utah and Mongolia, will be locked away for safekeeping. Anyone who wants to see Olympic medals, though, can go to a special exhibit at the British Museum.

The gold, silver, and bronze will be handed out in 805 victory ceremonies. In the meantime, athletes can rest assured that what's good for the crown is good for the gold.

"To the athletes competing to win these medals they are as precious as the Crown Jewels, so it is fitting that they should be stored for safekeeping in the same iconic location," Olympics minister Hugh Robertson said in a statement.

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