With Beijing already preparing to host the 2022 Winter Olympics, organizers made a surprising choice for their official mascot.
In a ceremony at a hockey arena on Tuesday, Chinese officials announced that a cartoon panda named Bing Dwen Dwen will serve as the icon for their Games.
Bing is the Chinese character for “ice” and Dwen Dwen is a common nickname for cute children in that country.
The bear will be accompanied by a figure named Shuey Rhon Rhon, which resembles a traditional glowing lantern with arms and legs. Its name combines the characters for “snow” and “warm” which, given the weather problems at several recent Winter Olympics, might not be such a great choice.
Still, the president of the International Olympic Committee expressed his satisfaction.
“The mascot incorporates the best elements and characteristics of China and the Chinese people,” Thomas Bach said.
With numerous candidates withdrawing from the bid process, the 2022 race came down to Beijing and Almaty, Kazakhstan.
The Chinese capital’s selection prompted anger among activists and human rights groups. It also seemed a bit puzzling because the events will have to be divided between the city and mountains that are hours away.
Beijing will become the first city to host both the Summer and Winter Games.