The Olympics are finally back and the athletes aren’t the only representatives of the big games. Have you met Tokyo’s Miraitowa?
Miraitowa is the official mascot of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Its name is based on the Japanese words ‘future’ (Mirai) and ‘eternity’ (Towa), according to Olympic Design, and its body and head contains a blue indigo ichimatsu-pattern resembling the Tokyo 2020 Games Emblem.
You’ll see Miraitowa at the games, but not competing with the other athletes. It will be in the form of a robot, greeting guests and athletes at the official venues.
Mascots started out as a way to attract younger audiences to the games. Over time, the Olympic committee found that mascots could also be used for promotion and merchandising.
But, there is more to it. Mascots chosen each Olympic season have their own special meaning meant to uplift audiences on all walks of life.
Let’s take a look at this year’s mascots for the Olympics and Paralympics: Miraitowa and Someity.
What are the Tokyo Olympics mascots?
Miraitowa was announced as the official mascot for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic games and Someity, represented by the pink ichimatsu-pattern, was chosen as the mascot for the 2020 Paralympic games.
They were chosen in February 2018 from more than 16,000 Japanese elementary schools. The design competition started in August 2017, and more than 2,000 eligible applicants went through three phases before the applicants narrowed down to three.
The Olympics website says that Miraitowa was chosen to “promote a future full of eternal hope in the hearts of people all over the world.”
Unique about Miraitowa is his power of teleportation. While it respects tradition, it is also in tune with the latest cutting-edge technology and is able to move freely between the digital world and the real world.
The 2020 Paralympics’ official mascot is named Someity, and its name derives from two words: someiyoshino, a type of cherry blossom, and the phrase “so mighty.”
According to the Paralympic website, the character can send and receive messages telepathically using her cherry blossom antennas, and can also fly. But even with its superhuman powers, it loves nature and “has a dignified inner strength.”
Someity represents Paralympic athletes who “overcome obstacles and redefine the boundaries of what is possible.”
The two mascots embody each other. Taniguchi told USA TODAY he was inspired to create the head of the mascots from Kabuto, a helmet that was worn by ancient Japanese warriors and later became a traditional Japanese military headpiece.
“I hope the mascots make people smile,” Taniguchi said.
Where do we see Olympic mascots?
This year, the Olympics committee and the Toyota Motor Corporation have two mascot robots that will help welcome athletes and visitors to the Olympic official venues.
There is a camera mounted on the robot’s head, so it can recognize people nearby and respond with expressions and movement. It will also have miniature joint units across its entire body.
There have also been plushies of the mascots, Uno cards with their faces on it and hats featuring the characters sold on different sites, including Amazon.
What were the past Olympic mascots?
The first mascot was featured in the 1968 Winter Olympic Games in Grenoble, France, according to the Olympics. Designed by Aline Lafargue, the character named Schuss had a two-colored head positioned on a zig-zag shaped foot. It was not an official mascot, but was an original.
The first official mascot for the Olympics was featured in the 1972 Munich summer Olympics. It was designed by Elena Winschermann and named ‘Waldi the Dachshund.’
In total, there have been 26 mascots, including Schuss. Here is a look into some of the mascots from past years:
London 2012: Wenlock
Wenlock, a metallic creature, represented the London 2012 Summer Olympic games. According to the Olympics, Wenlock was made from the last drops of steel used to build London’s Olympic stadium. It wears five bracelets on its wrist that represent the Olympic rings and its eyes are camera lens, which give it the ability to film everything it sees.
Rio 2016: Vinicius
Vinicius, which constituted a mix of different animals native to Brazil, represented the Rio 2018 Summer Olympic games. According to the Olympics, Vinicius “possesses the agility of cat, the balancing skills of a monkey and the grace of a bird.” It loves making new friends and plays all the Olympic sports.
Pyeongchang 2018: Soohorang
Soohorang, a white tiger, represented the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter games. According to the Olympics, the white tiger is considered Korea’s guardian animal. Soohorang represented a “challenging spirit and passion” but also “a trustworthy friend who protects the athletes, spectators and all the participants of the Olympic Games.”