Olympic Mascots Throughout the Years

Snow Leopard, Bely Mishka, and Zaika, the mascots of the Sochi 2014 Olympic Games. Editorial credit: Ewa Studio / Shutterstock.com

Olympic mascots are fabricated or fictitious characters in the form of animals or human figures who are used to symbolize the cultural traditions of a place or country where Olympics and Paralympic games take place. Throughout the years, several Olympic mascots have been used to showcase the diverse cultures of the host cities and nations as a whole. The first Olympic mascot was created in 1968 during the Grenoble Olympics and identified as "Schuss." It was in the form of a little man and painted blue, red and white, which are colors of France. Nevertheless, the first official mascot was Waldi, a Dachshund dog that appeared in Munich during the 1972 Summer Olympics. This particular breed was used to symbolize resistance, tenacity, and agility all of which are traits recommended for athletes. On the other hand, it possesses the three colors of Olympics which are blue, yellow and green. Mascots have since been embraced and have played a significant role in psyching the Olympics because of their bright and warm colors. Both the host cities and the host countries at large, use mascots to show off their heritage. Each of the host nations has the mandate to take charge and applaud their culture and pride.

10. Pyeongchang 2018

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The 2018 winter Olympics, which will take place in Pyeongchang, will use Soohorang as the games’ mascot. It takes its character from a white tiger. A white tiger has always been associated with the Koreans as a guardian animal and linked to trust, protection, and strength. It is a symbol of protection. Soohorang was designed by Jangdongryeon, Leeheegon, and Jangingyu.

9. Rio de Janeiro 2016

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In Rio, Brazil, the 2016 Olympics saw the ultimate adoption of Vinicius mascot, the animal that represents all the Brazilian mammals. It is an inspiration from the entire Brazilian wildlife family, and named after Vinicius de Moraes, a poet of the 1962 bossa nova song titled "The Girl from Ipanema," through a public participation voting process. Paulo M. and Luciana Eguti designed the Vinicius mascot.

8. Sochi 2014

In Sochi city, three mascots were adopted. They included Bely Mishka (a polar bear), Zaika (dore hare) and Snow Leopard (leopard) all designed by Silvia Petrova, Oleg Serdechny, and Vadim Pak. They were all agreed upon by a popular vote.

7. London 2012

During the 2012 Summer Olympics in London saw the adoption of Wenlock mascot. Their skins were made of polished steel and had one eye (a camera).Their heads were partially yellow symbolizing the London taxis. Iris designed Wenlock. The name Wenlock came from a village in Shropshire called Much Wenlock, where in 1850, the first Olympian games held by the Wenlock Olympian society represented the start of the Industrial Revolution in the UK.

6. Vancouver 2010

The 2010 winter Olympics were held at Vancouver city in Canada and had four mascots namely Miga, Quatchi, Mukmuk, and Sumi. Miga mascot took the character of a mythical sea bear that lives off the coast of the Vancouver Island. The bear enjoys surfing during summer and snowboarding during winter. Quatchi mascot symbolized a Sasquatch who comes from the Canadian forests and wears blue earmuffs. Besides, he loves traveling the globe. Sumi takes the character of an American black bear and a Thunderbird. She wears a hat resembling that of the Haida people. Sumi comes from the word "sumesh", meaning guardian spirit. Mukmuk, on the other hand, characterized a marmot. He has a large appetite, and the name Mukmuk comes from the word "muckamuck" which means "food" or "to eat." The four mascots were a creation by the Meomi Design duo, Michael Murphy, and Vicky Wong.

5. Beijing 2008

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The Beijing (China) olympics saw the adoption of several mascots. These were dolls with special characteristics, including Beibei the fish, Jingjing the giant panda, Huanhuan an Olympic flame, Yingying a Tibetan antelope, and Nini a swallow. Except for Olympic torch, the other four are the favorite animals in China, and represent water, forest, earth, and sky respectively. The formation of the combination of these words means "Welcome to Beijing. All these bear different colors each representing one of the five Olympic rings. These mascots were models by Han Meilin.

4. Turin 2006

The 2006 Winter Olympic held in Turin had mascots called Gliz and Neve which represent a humanized male ice cube and a humanized female snowball respectively. They both symbolize successful winter games. While Neve characterized harmony and elegance during movement, Gliz is angular and smooth in shape, which means the power and strength of athletes. Neve wears red while Gliz wears blue. Pedro Albuquerque designed these creations.

3. Athens 2004

Athens adopted Athena and Phevos during the 2004 Summer Olympics. Their nature was an inspiration from two siblings, a brother and a sister. The designer of these mascots was Spyros Gogos.

2. Salt Lake City 2002

Powder, Copper, and Coal were the formal mascots of the games in the year 2000. These three names are the three most precious natural resources of Utah State, United States. Copper, Powder, and Coal are a coyote, a snowshoe hare, and a black bear respectively. The coyote can climb the highest mountaintops, the snowshoe hare is swift, and the black bear is mighty. These three attributes symbolize the Olympic motto Altius (higher), Citius (faster) and Fortius (stronger). Each of the three mascots wore a charm around its neck. The mascots were products by Landor, Publicis and Steve Small.

1. Sydney 2000

The official mascots for the Olympic Games in Sydney (Australia) were Olly, Syd, and Millie. All were initials formed from three words. Olly from Olympics, Syd from Sydney, and Millie from Millenium. The three mascots are a kookaburra, a platypus, and an echnida/spiny anteater respectively. The three animals symbolize the water, air, and earth respectively. Olly signifies the Olympic spirit of generosity, Syd represented the environment and the strength of the Australians, and Millie signifies the Millennium age. They were an idea brought by Mathew Hatton and Jozef Szekeres.


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