The History of Olympic Mascots

Yesterday, the 2012 London Summer Olympic Games Organizing Committee unveiled the official mascots for both the Olympic and Paralympic Games. On the left of the photo is Wenlock, the Olympic mascot. On the right is Mandeville, the Paralympic mascot. The obvious dick jokes aside, I’m not sure that there’s been a dumber set of mascots ever devised. Really, they look like a pair of one-eyed monsters that were rejects from a Doctor Who story. So how ridiculous have past mascots been? Let’s take a walk back through time as I look at the history of the mascots of the Olympic Games.

Vancouver 2010
The most recent round of Olympic mascots were considered the height of ridiculousness until London unveiled their… things. Anyway, the Vancouver mascots are all based on mythical creatures of the First Nations peoples of British Columbia. On the left is Sumi, the Paralympic mascot, who Wikipedia describes as a mythical creature with the wings of a thunderbird, legs of a black bear, and a hat of an orca whale. In the middle is Quatchi who is a sasquatch which, shockingly, is the most sensical of the three mascots. On the right is Miga, which is part orca and part kermode bear. All of these are largely ridiculous but at least these mascots have something to do with the host city.

Beijing 2008
They did everything big in China for the 2008 Olympics. Their crew of mascots was the biggest ever. In keeping with their uber-China theme, they mashed up Chinese culture with the colours of the Olympic rings to create the Fuwa. From left to right, they are Beibei (a fish), Jingjing (a panda), Huanhuan (the Olympic flame), Yingying (a Tibetan antelope), Nini (a swallow). The names actually have a weird story too. Put together, the mascots’ names spell “Beijing Welcomes You” in Chinese. They really went nuts with these dumb mascots in 2008.

Torino 2006
I didn’t realize that drugs were as big in northern Italy as they were in the Netherlands. The mascots were a cartoon woman with a snowball head called Neve and a guy with an ice cube head called Gliz. I can understand why snow and ice would be used for Olympic symbolism. That being said, didn’t they have anything that screamed Italy that would make a good mascot? Violin cases? Cement shoes? Bullet-riddled cars?

Athens 2004
Wait, what was I saying about dick jokes with the London mascots. The Athens mascots, Athena and Phevos, are described as children resembling ancient Greek dolls. Really, though, they’re dicks with feet. The London mascots are one-eyed monsters which leads to dick jokes. I’m convinced that Athena and Phevos here were designed by a man who was obsessed with drawing penises. The designer was definitely the inspiration for Superbad.

Salt Lake City 2002
The gang at Salt Lake City may have taken the double two thing a little too far. Every mascot had two names that it went by. For example, Powder the snowshoe hare was also known as Faster. Copper the coyote was also called Higher. Coal the bear was called Stronger. Get it? Faster, higher, stronger. Not clichéd at all. Though it is noteworthy that, like Vancouver, the Salt Lake mascots were based on local Native myths. That’s especially interesting considering that the Mormons are headquartered in Salt Lake City and I thought the Mormons thought the Native Americans were heathens or something like that. I really need to rewatch Religulous.

Sydney 2000
I think that the Sydney mascots might be the coolest. My partner in blogging crime, Jackie, would probably agree with me if I say that lots of things are cooler in Australia. That includes the local wildlife. On the left is Olly the Kookaburra who represents the spirit of generosity. In the middle is Syd the Platypus represents the environment and people of Australia. On the right is Millie the Echidna who represents the millenium. I love how these creatures that represent nothing can be made to represent something corny or ridiculous. I’m also shocked that the Aussies didn’t have a dingo as a mascot. I’m sure that it could represent something to do with the thousands of Olympic Village condoms.

7 thoughts on “The History of Olympic Mascots

  1. There is some very interesting facts on here. I am in grade six and we had do a Olympic magazine and one of the requirements was to do a report on all the mascots and then i stumbled onto this website. when i got my project back one of the comments was “Love the information on the mascots” so please if anybody comes across this website i recommend that you use this information.

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