Feature Photo: Vinicius (left), Rio 2016 Olympics mascot and Tom, mascot of the Paralympic Games.
Mascots have been a fun part of the Olympic Games since 1968.
The first one, named Schuss, appeared at the Grenoble 1968 Olympic Games. Schuss was an abstract figure of a man on skis, painted with the colours of France (red, white and blue). However, it wasn’t officially recognized by the International Olympic Committee. The first official mascot was born at Munich 1972. Here is a look at the history of mascots from the Summer Games with information provided by the IOC:
Waldi is a dachshund dog, a popular animal in Bavaria. The mascot was created at a Christmas party held by the Munich Games Organizing Committee. Guests were given crayons, paper and modelling clay to create a design.
The first time the Games arrived in Canada was Montreal 1976. The beaver did double duty as Canada’s national animal, and also the mascot for the Games. A national competition was held to name the beaver, and the name Amik was chosen.
Misha was the mascot for Moscow 1980. The bear’s full name is actually Mikhail Potapych Toptygin. In Russia, the bear pops up in popular stories, songs, and poems. At the Closing Ceremony, a giant Misha was lifted up into the air with balloons, bidding farewell to the crowd below.
Watch here: Moscow 1980 Closing Ceremony
Los Angeles 1984
Originally, a bear was chosen as the mascot for the Los Angeles 1984 Games, since the animal is on the California flag. However, it was changed to Sam the bald eagle since a bear had been used for Moscow 1980. In Japan, a cartoon show featuring Sam was created, and aired from April 1983 to March 1984. The show followed Sam as a detective who used the five Olympic rings on his hat to get out of trouble.
Hodori the tiger was the mascot for Seoul 1988. The tiger is a popular animal found in Korean legends and art. The organizing committee selected the tiger over three other finalists: a rabbit, a squirrel, and a pair of mandarin ducks. There was also a female version of the mascot called Hosuni, but she was rarely used.
The mascot for Barcelona 1992 was Cobi, a Pyrenean mountain dog with human characteristics. A show called The Cobi Troupe was created in Spain to promote the mascot and the Games in Barcelona. The series was 26 episodes long, and followed the adventures of Cobi and his friends.
Watch here: The Cobi Troupe
Izzy is a unique mascot because it’s not an animal, a human figure, or an object. The mascot for Atlanta 1996 is described as being the result of information technology. Izzy was originally called “Whatizit”, but was renamed by the children of Atlanta.
The Sydney 2000 Games marked the first time there were three mascots. Syd is a duck-billed platypus, Olly is a kookaburra, and Millie is an echidna. Syd, Olly and Millie were a reference to Sydney, the Olympics, and the new millennium, and the three symbolized the water, air, and earth, respectively.
Phevos and Athena are a reference to two gods of Olympus: Apollo (also known as Phoebos) and Athena. The two mascots for Athens 2004 are brother and sister. They represent the link between Ancient Greece and the modern Olympic Games. Their odd shape is based off the daidala, a 7th century BC terracotta doll.
The five mascots for Beijing 2008 each represent a natural element, and except for one, an animal. Beibei is a fish, and represents water. Jingjing the panda represents the forest. Yingying is a Tibetan antelope, symbolizing earth. Nini is a swallow and is a reference to the sky. Huanhuan is the only one not based on an animal. He represents fire and the Olympic spirit. The mascots are often referred to as the Fuwa, which translates to “good-luck-dolls”.
For London 2012, both the Olympic and Paralympic mascot were revealed together, making it the second time this has happened. Wenlock’s metallic look is explained with the story that he was made from one of the remaining drops used to build the Olympic Stadium. The shape of Wenlock’s head is the same shape as the stadium. The light on his head is similar to the ones found on London’s famous black cabs, and the three points represent a podium. The bracelets on his wrists symbolize the Olympic rings.
RELATED: Rio mascots revealed
Vinicius is named after Brazilian musician Vinicius de Moraes. The mascot is a blend of different Brazilian animals: the agility of a cat, the balancing skills of a monkey, and the grace of a bird. After the mascots were revealed to the public, there was a vote for what their names should be. Vinicius and Tom were chosen over the other two options of Oba and Eba or Tiba Tuqe and Esquindim. Expect to see more of Vinicius as Rio 2016 comes closer.