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A Brief History of the Olympic and Paralympic Mascots

  Since the first mascot in Olympic history made its appearance at the 1972 Munich Olympic Games, mascots have become a main element of the Olympic image. As a unique and popular image full of vitality, a mascot is able to materialize the Olympic spirit, communicate the concepts of each Olympic Games, promote the history and culture of the host city and create a festive atmosphere for the Games. Mascots act as a significant vehicle for communicating the Olympic spirit to the general public, especially children and youth. The International Olympic Committee and the organizing committees of every Olympic Games require high quality of the mascot design. The unveiling of the mascot for each Olympic Games has drawn global attention and become the highlight of the Games. During the evolution of the Olympic mascots, innovation and personality are always top priorities while importance is attached to the participation of the general public, particularly the children. The design and solicitation of mascots are actually public campaign of the Olympic Games.

  In terms of the artistic form of mascots, before the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games, most Olympic mascots were created based on the animals unique to the host countries and they were normally of one species. Since 1992, human or totally invented figures have appeared and changes have also taken place in the number of mascots. The 1998 Nagano Winter Olympic Games had four mascots; the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games had three and the 2004 Athens Olympic Games has two. Whatever shapes they have, they fundamentally share a creative rationale, that is, the mascots must be able to convey the theme of the Olympic Games, showcase the distinctive geographical features, history and culture unique to the host city.

Waldi--mascot of 1972 Olympic Summer Games in Munich, Germany

“Waldi”, the dachshund. Very popular in Bavaria, but he also possesses qualities which are indispensable to an athlete: resistance, tenacity and agility. These are among the reasons he was chosen to be the mascot. He was dressed in pastel colors to express the gaiety and joy of the Olympic festival.

Amik--mascot of the 1976 Olympic Summer Games in Montreal, Canada

It was a beaver called “Amik”, a name taken from the Algonquian language, which is the most popular language amongst the American Indians in Canada. “Amik” means beaver.

Misha--mascot of the 1980 Olympic Summer Games in Moscow

The Moscow Olympic bear “Misha” was developed by the renowned illustrator of children's books Victor Chizikov.

Sam the Eagle--mascot of the 1984 Olympic Summer Games in Los Angeles, USA

Designed by Walt Disney, Samis a cartooned Eagle with sheer American characteristics who wears the dress of the legendary American—Uncle Sam with a star-spangled background in red, white and blue, typical colors of USA. Commercial use of mascots was initiated henceforth.

Hodori—mascot of the 1988 Olympic Summer Games in Seoul, Korea

For the 1988 Olympic Games, which was held in an Oriental country, a little tiger designed by Kim Hyun with typical Oriental color was chosen as the mascot, who was named Hodori. Hodori was designed as an amicable tiger, which portrays the friendly and hospitable traditions of the Koreans, and the name Hodori was chosen from 2,295 suggestions sent in by the public. “Ho” is derived from the Korean word for “tiger”, and “Dori” is a diminutive for boys in Korea.

Cobi—mascot of the 1992 Olympic Summer Games in Barcelona, Spain

The mascot was a dog named Cobi. The Barcelona Organizing Committee for Olympics had specially produced a TV series for Cobi to communicate the spirits of the Games. The Valencian artist, Javier Mariscal, created the dog “Cobi” as official mascot of the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games.

Izzy—mascot of the 1996 Olympic Summer Games in Atlanta, USA

Izzy—mascot of the 1996 Olympic Summer Games in Atlanta--was the first mascot designed by computer. It was an amorphous abstract fantasy figure. It carried the name “Izzy”, derived from “What is it?” because no one seemed to know exactly what “Izzy” really was.

Syd, Olly and Millie—mascots of the 2000 Olympic Summer Games in Sydney, Australia

Ollie, Syd and Millie, designed by Matthew Hattan, are three native Australian animals chosen as mascots for the Sydney 2000 Games. They represent earth, air and water. “Olly”, a kookaburra, epitomizes the Olympic spirit of generosity and universal generosity (from Olympic); "Syd", a platypus, represents the environment and captures the vigor and energy of Australia and its people (from Sydney); "Millie", an echidna, is a techno-whiz and information guru, with all the facts and figures at her fingertips (from Millennium).

Athena and Phevos—mascots of the 2004 Olympic Summer Games in Athens, Greece

The lovely mascots, Athena and Phevos, with their whacking feet, longish necks and puny heads, one in deep yellow and the other in deep blue, are based on dolls, thousands of years old, found at archeological sites in Greece. Greek mythology had it that Phevos and Athena are brother and sister, named after two Greek gods: Phevos, the god of light and music, and Athena, goddess of wisdom and patron of the city of Athens.

Paralympic Mascots

Lizzie—mascots of the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Summer Games, Australia

>The Mascot for the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games was Lizzie, the frill-necked lizard. She was chosen to carry the Paralympic messages of performance, power and pride to both Australian and international audiences. Her strength, determined will and attitude symbolize all Paralympians. Lizzie's frill is shaped as the map of Australia with its green and gold colors, while her body is the red ochre color of the land.

Proteas—mascots of the Athens 2004 Paralympic Summer Games, Greece

The mascot creator searched for an image that would portray the four unique values for the ATHENS 2004 Paralympic Games: inspiration, strength, pursuit, celebration. The mascot for the 2004 Paralympic Games is a sea – horse (hippocampus) named Proteas, from a divinity of the Greek mythology. The name embraces the notion of excellence that is a core notion of the Paralympic Games, as the athletes seek to overcome themselves in achieving even higher competition performances. The Greek word “protos” means first in rank, excellent.

Lizzie—mascots of the Salt Lake City 2002 Paralympic Winter Games, the USA

The mascot for the Paralympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City 2002 was Otto the otter. Ancient Indian tribes considered the otter to be one of the most powerful of all animals. After being nearly wiped out by pollution and overtrapping the river otter has been reintroduced to Utah and can be seen along the banks of the Green River. The otter was chosen as the official mascot of the Salt Lake 2002 Paralympic Winter Games because he embodies vitality and agility, and represents the spirit of every Paralympian.

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