Colorful Olympic medal-holders baffle viewers

Members of the men's 4 x 100m Freestyle Relay team, including Michael Phelps, with their medal-holders.

Story highlights

  • They are designed to hold and showcase the Olympic medals
  • They are given to Olympic medal winners at award ceremonies
  • The design has confused viewers and athletes

(CNN)What are the Olympic figurines for? This was the question that many social media users were left pondering.

To quote one Twitter user, are they used for holding napkins?
    No. The colorful figurines are in fact medal-holders, designed to hold and display Olympic medals. But for a while, many were puzzled by their purpose during the medal ceremonies.
    The figurine, as held by gold medalist Almaz Ayana of Ethiopia.
    The medal-holder is based on a 3-D sculpture from acclaimed graphic designer Fred Gelli and reflects "contagious energy, harmonious diversity and exuberant nature," according to the design website Tatil.
    Aliya Mustafina, Simone Biles, and Alexandra Raisman on the medal stand at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
    That didn't stop social media users from guessing what the metal piece was for.
    "Is it just me or does this year's Olympic trophy/figurine/souvenir spell 'Rio?' wondered one user.
    Maybe it's a paperweight? Nope, it's definitely not a paperweight..
    In the past, winners were traditionally presented with a bouquet of flowers along with their medals but it's now considered "unsustainable," according to Christy Nicolay, the executive producer of the victory ceremonies.