TOKYO 2020 UN­VEILS BUG-EYED OLYMPIC MAS­COT HOPE­FULS

The Jakarta Post - - SPORTS - Alas­tair Him­mer

Tokyo Olympic or­ga­niz­ers un­veiled a short­list of three of­fi­cial 2020 Games mas­cots Thurs­day — from bug-eyed car­toon he­roes to cud­dly rac­coons.

The Olympic and Par­a­lympic de­signs, which cel­e­brate the themes of har­mony, diver­sity and re­silience, were un­veiled by pupils at a Tokyo el­e­men­tary school.

Af­ter a bun­gled roll­out of the of­fi­cial Olympic logo that led to it be­ing scrapped fol­low­ing ac­cu­sa­tions of pla­gia­rism, lo­cal or­ga­niz­ers have left the se­lec­tion of the Tokyo 2020 mas­cots in the hands of school­child­ren.

From Dec. 11 to Fe­bru­ary 22, pupils at ev­ery el­e­men­tary school across Ja­pan — and Ja­panese schools over­seas — will choose their fa­vorite de­sign, with each class cast­ing a sin­gle vote. The win­ner will be an­nounced on Fe­bru­ary 28.

The com­pet­ing mas­cots are in­stantly rec­og­niz­able as “Made in Ja­pan”, rang­ing in ap­pear­ance from sci-fi cool to a glum-look­ing fox closer in spirit to the coun­try’s beloved yuru-kyara (soft char­ac­ters).

De­sign A’s fu­tur­is­tic blue-checked de­sign with pointy ears and over­sized eyes evokes Ja­panese manga, while Olympic or­ga­niz­ers re­vealed it has a “strong sense of jus­tice” and can ap­par­ently move faster than light.

Its Par­a­lympic cousin, mean­while, sports red checks de­rived from cherry blos­soms and pos­sesses the abil­ity, help­fully, to “talk with stones and the wind.”

De­sign B pairs a car­toon hy­brid of a “lucky” cat and a fox draped in a red flame-like cloak with a blue lion-dog of the type seen guard­ing Ja­panese shrines — the com­mon thread be­tween them big round eyes re­sem­bling disco lights.

Olympic Mas­cot B also “loves to take naps un­der­neath the sun­light,” said Ja­panese or­ga­niz­ers, adding that it “gives happy en­ergy to peo­ple by touch­ing them with its tail.”

The softer ap­peal of Op­tion C, mean­while, brings to­gether a fox look­ing less than over­joyed at be­ing dec­o­rated in pre­his­toric “ma­g­a­tama” beads and a red rac­coon look­ing a lit­tle be­mused by all of the com­mo­tion.

Tokyo or­ga­niz­ers will hope to make smooth progress on the mas­cots to build on re­cent mo­men­tum fol­low­ing a se­ries of pub­lic re­la­tions dis­as­ters.

Last month, Tokyo opened its first new per­ma­nent venue for the 2020 Olympics — a wel­come boost af­ter plans for the main sta­dium were torn up by Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe two years ago over its US$2 bil­lion price tag.

De­signs for the of­fi­cial Games em­blem were then scrapped amid a pla­gia­rism row.

AFP/Kazuhiro Nogi

Mas­cot fi­nal­ists: School­child­ren pose with a short­list of three pairs of of­fi­cial Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games mas­cots dur­ing a photo ses­sion at Kakezuka el­e­men­tary school in Tokyo on Thurs­day. Tokyo Olympic or­ga­niz­ers un­veiled a short­list of three of­fi­cial 2020 Games mas­cots — from bug-eyed car­toon he­roes to cud­dly rac­coons.

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