Beijing unveils 2008 Olympic mascots
GOV.cn Saturday, November 12, 2005


(Click the photo to enlarge!)

A set of five doll mascots for the 2008 Olympic Games are unveiled in Beijing, capital of China, Nov. 11, 2005, exactly 1,000 days before the event's opening ceremony. The long-anticipated mascots, which embody the natural characteristics of four of China's popular animals -- the Fish(L), the Panda(2nd, L), the Tibetan Antelope (2nd, R), the Swallow (R)-- and the Olympic Flame (C), were presented at a grand ceremony inside the Workers' Gymnasium in Beijing. [Photo: beijing2008.com] 


Beibei is the Fish [Photo: beijing2008.com] 


Jingjing is the Panda [Photo: beijing2008.com] 


Huanhuan is the Olympic Flame [Photo: beijing2008.com] 


Yingying is the Tibetan antelope [Photo: beijing2008.com] 


Nini is the Swallow [Photo: beijing2008.com] 


Stamps marking the launch of mascots for Beijing Olympic Games will be issued on Nov. 12, 2005. A set of five doll mascots for the 2008 Olympic Games were unveiled in Beijing, capital of China, Nov. 11, 2005, exactly 1,000 days before the event's opening ceremony. [Xinhua Photo] 


Photo taken on Nov. 8 shows one piece of the designing draft of mascots for Beijing Olympic Games.  [Xinhua Photo] 


A grand ceremony for unveiling a set of five doll mascots for the 2008 Olympic Games is held in Beijing, capital of China, Nov. 11, 2005, exactly 1,000 days before the event's opening ceremony. [Xinhua Photo] 


A grand ceremony for unveiling a set of five doll mascots for the 2008 Olympic Games is held in Beijing, capital of China, Nov. 11, 2005, exactly 1,000 days before the event's opening ceremony. [Xinhua Photo] 


Jia Qinglin, chairman of the Standing Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, and other senior officials from China and Olympics Committee, attend a grand ceremony to unveil the mascots for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, capital of China, Nov, 11, 2005.  [Xinhua Photo] 


Jia Qinglin, chairman of the Standing Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, attend a grand ceremony to unveil the mascots for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, capital of China, Nov, 11, 2005.  [Xinhua Photo] 

To the surprise of all, Beijing unveiled a set of five doll mascots for the 2008 Olympic Games Friday evening, exactly 1,000 days before the event's opening ceremony.

The long-anticipated mascots, which embody the natural characteristics of four of China's popular animals -- the Fish, the Panda, the Tibetan Antelope, the Swallow -- and the Olympic Flame, were presented at a televised grand ceremony inside the Workers' Gymnasium.

It is the first time that more than three images share Summer Olympic mascot duty. The 2000 Sydney Games featured three animal mascots --Olly the Kookaburra, Syd the Platypus and Millie the Spiny Anteater.

"We decided to produce five mascots instead of one, because we think no single figure can embody China's profound and diversified culture," said Han Meilin, chief of the mascot designers' group.

Each of the Beijing Olympic mascots has a rhyming two-syllable name -- a traditional way of expressing affection for children in China. Beibei is the Fish, Jingjing is the Panda, Huanhuan is the Olympic Flame, Yingying is the Tibetan antelope and Nini is the Swallow.

When their names are put together -- Bei Jing Huan Ying Ni --they say "Welcome to Beijing".

The five elements of nature -- the sea, forest, fire, earth and sky -- can be found in their origins and headpieces, all stylistically rendered in ways that represent the deep traditional influences of Chinese folk art and ornamentation.

Each of the mascots also symbolizes a different blessing --prosperity, happiness, passion, health and good luck.

International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Jacques Rogge sent a letter of congratulation to the BOCOG.

"China is lucky to have so many beautiful animals to represent the Olympic spirit," said Rogge in the letter.

"I love them all. And I am delighted that they will carry traditional Chinese blessings all over the world.

"I believe that this little group of friends -- the carp, the panda, the flame, the antelope and the swallow -- will be extremely popular and will help to spread Olympic messages throughout the world," he added.

Many ordinary citizens expressed their surprise at the number of the mascots.

"I didn't expect that there will five mascots. It's a big surprise," said Henry Mok, a Canadian-Chinese who works in Beijing.

"It's a bit surprising (to have five mascots), but if you look at them as a whole, they are more complete than any single image," said Li Xiang, a public servant.

The unveiling of the Beijing Olympic mascots also ended a year-long race of hundreds of candidates.

Since the Beijing Organizing Committee for the 2008 Olympic Games (BOCOG) launched a worldwide solicitation in August last year, competition was hot as a handful of areas were vying to have their local symbols picked.

The country's western Qinghai province was pushing the endangered Tibetan antelope. Fujian province presented the South China tiger. Gansu favored the mythical dragon and Jiangsu promoted the legendary Monkey King.

Dozens of artists and designers were called to cut the initial list of mascot entrants from 662 to 56 and finally to six, with the final choice selected by the BOCOG. The IOC approved the choice in August.

The first mascot to appear at an Olympics was in the 1968Winter Games in Grenoble, France. But Schuss the skier was not official. The first official mascot was Waldi the Dachshund, who appeared at the Munich Summer Games in 1972.

Mascots are the most marketable symbols in the Olympics business. The choice is important as sales of licensed products and helps organizers defray costs.

More than 300 kinds of licensed products bearing the mascot will go on sale at 188 authorized shops across China the day after the announcement, with prices ranging from one US dollar for a pen to thousands of dollars for a medal.

"The launch of the mascot will push sales of Olympic products to new heights," said Lai Ming, deputy director of BOCOG's marketing department.

"We believe the sales volume will be bigger than the previous Olympic Games."

Phevos and Athena, the big-footed sibling mascots of last year's Athens Olympics, generated profits of over 200 million US dollars.

 
Editor: Du Jing
Source: Xinhua