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23 Mar 2018 18:09
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  •   Home > News > International

    Japanese students select 'futuristic' Tokyo 2020 Olympic mascots

    After a nationwide selection process in Japan's schools, students select mascots for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

    They can teleport, move objects with their mind and talk to stones and the wind — they're the official mascots of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

    After a nationwide selection process in Japan's schools, students have selected their Games' mascots.

    Students from more than 200,000 classes at 16,000 Japanese schools across the country and internationally had their say.

    With almost 110,000 votes, 'Mascots A' were selected.

    The Olympic mascot "embodies both old tradition and new innovation," organisers say.

    "It has strong sense of justice, and is very athletic," an organiser said.

    The Paralympic mascot is a "cool character" with cherry blossom ears and supernatural powers.

    "It's usually calm, however, it gets very powerful when needed," the organiser said.

    "It has a dignified inner strength and a kind heart that loves nature."

    They don't have a name yet — and it's unlikely that will go to a public vote given previous international competitions have resulted in boats being named Boaty McBoatface.

    Organisers are expected to announce a name later this year.

    Winner Ryo Taniguchi said he wanted to keep the design simple.

    "Thank you very much, my mind has gone blank and I don't know what to say," he said.

    "I can't wait to tell my darling wife."

    He explained how he got rid of any unnecessary elements and kept his design simple.

    "I'd be very happy if these characters became an anime," he said.

    Sadly he will not receive any royalties as all intellectual rights will go to the International Olympic and Paralympic committees.

    Yoshiko Ikoma, deputy chief of the mascot panel and designer, said narrowing down the designs for students to vote on was a heated process.

    "Japan is a major mascot nation — all of the committee members thought they had to select a very good one and hoped to create a lovely mascot," she said.

    "It was tense and there were many different opinions."

    From cute to creepy, mascots are supremely popular in Japan.

    They prance around street fairs, sporting events, and tourist destinations.

    It's hard to pinpoint the true reason why Japanese obsess over these kinds of things — some say it reminds them of childhood cartoon characters, others say memories of their hometowns.

    Whatever the reason, students rarely get a say in such an influential decision, but organisers say it was a deliberate and important choice.

    One of the students at Hoyonomori Gakuen School where the selection was announced, Miu Kawa, 12, said she was very excited the "futuristic" designs won.

    "I'm very happy. I like the coolness of these characters," she said.

    "This design is like a robot and it's futuristic. It's like a dream when I imagine these mascots being decorated everywhere or moving, and I'm very excited."

    © 2018 ABC Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved

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