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Olympic Medals Placed At Tower Of London For Safekeeping

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Sebastian Coe, chairman of the London 2012 Organizing Committee, and Jan du Plessis, left, Rio Tinto mining company chairman, holding a gold medal of the Games at the Tower of London, Monday, July 2, 2012.
Sebastian Coe, chairman of the London 2012 Organizing Committee, and Jan du Plessis, left, Rio Tinto mining company chairman, holding a gold medal of the Games at the Tower of London, Monday, July 2, 2012.

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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