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Meet the endearing Oly ambassadors

Published : Jul 24, 2016, 12:38 am IST
Updated : Jul 24, 2016, 12:38 am IST

Mascots are not as old as some of the more enduring symbols of the Olympics but they endeared themselves so quickly to sports lovers all over the world that an edition of the Games without them is unt

Mascots are not as old as some of the more enduring symbols of the Olympics but they endeared themselves so quickly to sports lovers all over the world that an edition of the Games without them is unthinkable now.

The exuberance of Olympic mascots is infectious and the fun they bring to the Games remains unmatched. Above all, a mascot is a great communication tool.

The 1968 Winter Olympics at Grenoble, France, was the first to have a mascot, Schuss. Without approval from the IOC, however, Schuss’s popularity didn’t reach the dizzying heights of its official successors. After Waldi, a lovable dachshund, became the first official mascot of the Olympics at Munich in 1972, there was no looking back. From stickers to posters to T-shirts, Waldi became ubiquitous in the Games arena and outside.

Successive Olympic hosts chose native animals as mascots to entrench the memory of the Games. After Amik the beaver at Montreal in 1976, a bear named Misha enthralled fans at the 1980 Games. Four years later, Los Angeles went for the easy choice of an eagle, the national symbol of the USA. Even the name was less imaginative: Sam.

Barcelona bucked the trend in 1992 by going for surreal dog, Cobi. Created by a Spanish cartoonist, Cobi consumed time to take off but became a rage once people understood its design. Atlanta 1996 zeroed in on an abstract Izzy, whose name was suitably derived from whatizit. Like their predecessors, the ability of Cobi and Izzy to create a friendly atmosphere was established beyond doubt. Sydney, Athens and Beijing went for multiple mascots, robbing the Olympics of a singular visual symbol in the process.

Vinicius, the mascot for the 2016 Games, is a tribute to popular Brazilian musician, Vinicius de Moraes. It’s a mixture of different Brazilian animals to highlight the diversity of the South American country.

The design of Vinicius was inspired by pop culture, video game and animation character.

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