BEIJING (AP) — A smiling panda and a walking Chinese lantern will be the mascots for the 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympics in Beijing.
The mascots were revealed Tuesday at a ceremony at the Shougang Ice Hockey Arena in the Chinese capital.
Beijing Mayor Chen Jining described them as adorable, unique and exquisite.
“In a visually appealing way, they epitomize our aspiration for the Beijing 2022 Games, and extend our warm invitation to friends throughout the world,” he said.
The panda, named Bing Dwen Dwen, is the Olympic mascot. Colorful circles around its face symbolize skating tracks and 5G technology, according to the website of the Beijing organizing committee. Bing, the Chinese word for “ice,” shows purity and strength, while Dwen Dwen means sincerity, liveliness and health, the website said.
The choice of the iconic animal, considered the national treasure, was not a surprise to people in China. While many acclaimed Bing Dwen Dwen for its cuteness on social media, some were not impressed by the lack of creativity in choosing a panda.
The giant panda was one of the five mascots for the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, and it also was the symbol for the Asian Games in Beijing in 1990.
“Today is an important step on a milestone in Beijing’s journey to make history as the first ever, in Olympic history, to host both summer and winter editions of the Olympic Games,” International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach said at the ceremony.
Based on a traditional red lantern, Paralympic mascot Shuey Rhon Rhon creates the cheerful atmosphere of the Chinese Lunar New Year, which will fall around the time of the Winter Games, the organizing committee said.
It sports a yellow scarf, a circle of yellow doves around its head and a traditional Chinese paper cutting. “Shuey” means snow in Chinese and the characters for “Rhon Rhon” mean “inclusiveness” and “integration,” implying the world civilizations communicating among one another and living in harmony, the committee said.
The two mascots were selected from more than 5,800 submissions from 35 countries.