After some instances of Olympians being robbed, Rio officials have begun giving winning athletes medals equipped with anti-robbery dye packs that explode if stolen.
The devices, similar to those used by banks to thwart would-be bank robbers, represent Rio’s attempt to combat several theft incidents affecting Olympians and the media. Officials said that while the dye packs make the medals less aesthetically pleasing, they were a necessary precaution and athletes should not let the dye—and elaborate sign-out procedure to leave the medal stand—dampen their excitement over winning.
“Rio’s Olympics is all about athletic achievement and also loss prevention,” said Leonardo Picciani, Brazil’s minister of sports. “We’ve only had a few incidents of the dye accidentally exploding on winning athletes, otherwise it’s been a tremendous success.”
Officials said that if robberies persist they may outfit the medals with electronic security tags—like those used at retail clothing stores—that trigger alarms if an unauthorized person tries to depart with it.