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Volume 26 No. 174
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Panda, Lantern Tapped As Mascots For Beijing Games, Paralympics

The organizing committee for the '22 Beijing Games and Paralympic Games yesterday "unveiled the official mascots" for events -- a panda bear and a red lantern, according to Sun Xiaochen of CHINA DAILY. Bing Dwen Dwen, a "giant panda-inspired cartoon character," will be the mascot for the next Winter Olympics -- Bing "means 'ice' in Chinese, while Dwen Dwen suggests 'health and ingenuity.'" The "halo surrounding the mascot's face is suggestive of ice and snow tracks, as well as the flowing 'ribbons' on the exterior of the National Speed Skating Oval." IOC President Thomas Bach said, "The mascot really incorporates the best elements and characteristics of China and the Chinese people." Sun noted organizers also "introduced Shuey Rhon Rhon -- a personification of a red lantern -- as the mascot" for the Paralympics. Shuey Rhon Rhon "does not easily translate into English but contains characters for both 'snow' and 'forbearance.'" The lantern mascot "emanates a glow from its heart that symbolizes warmth, friendship and the resilience of disabled athletes" (CHINA DAILY, 9/17). The AP's Shanshan Wang noted while the panda is "considered the national treasure" in China, the choice "was not a surprise." 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 animal 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" (AP, 9/17).

EARLY REACTIONS: AD AGE's Ethan Craft noted Bing Dwen Dwen is "undeniably cute and cuddly, somewhat reminiscent of Beijing’s cartoon representatives" from the '08 Games (ADAGE.com, 9/17). CNN.com's Jessie Leung noted the mascot "looks like an astronaut, which was no accident" according to the IOC's official announcement (CNN.com, 9/17). THE WEEK's Kathryn Krawczyk wrote the mascot is an "uncharacteristically round panda who, despite being encased in a transparent ice suit, can somehow move well enough to be expert at every winter Olympic sport out there" (THEWEEK.com, 9/17).