Thu, Mar 01, 2018 - Page 16 News List

Tokyo unveils mascots for Olympics, Paralympics

Reuters, TOKYO

Students hold paper fans featuring the mascots for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics at an event at Hoyonomori Gakuen School in Tokyo yesterday.

Photo: Reuters

Mascot-loving Japan has two new characters to get excited about after two futuristic designs with pointy ears and checkered patterns were yesterday unveiled to promote the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics.

Chosen by schoolchildren across Japan and announced before a gymnasium of cheering students in Tokyo, the as-yet-unnamed blue character is to be the mascot for the Olympics and the pink cherry blossom-inspired one for the Paralympics.

“It’s quite innovative, I like the blue-check pattern, while the pink one uses cherry blossoms and it shows traditional Japan,” said Miyu Kawa, a 12-year-old student at Hoyonomori Gakuen School, where the selection was announced.

“These two are very different in design, but I think they have quite a unity between them,” she said, adding that they evoke a theme that resonates well with the Olympic movement.

Organizers last year received more than 2,000 entries from the general public in a nationwide competition, from which they short-listed three pairs of designs in December.

Students from more than 200,000 classes at about 16,000 Japanese elementary schools took part in the selection process, with each class casting a single vote.

The winning pair, created by designer and illustrator Ryo Taniguchi, received more than half of the total and easily beat the other two pairs.

The country of Hello Kitty is known for its love of all things cute and some of its ubiquitous mascot characters enjoy celebrity status, notably Kumamon the red-cheeked bear and Funassyi, a peach with 1.5 million Twitter followers.

The Tokyo 2020 mascots, whose names are to be decided by the same selection panel, are to take the torch from their cuddly Pyeongchang Winter Games counterparts Soohorang, a white tiger, and Bandabi, a black bear.

Tokyo 2020 organizing committee vice director-general Masaaki Komiya said the panel expected to announce the names later this year.

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