The Not So Glorious World of Olympic Mascots

22.11.2014.Mascotes. Sede Rio2016

While the Olympic Games has been famous for being a showcase in glorious feats of sports, their accomplishments pertaining to mascots are not one of them. Sure every Olympiad is amazing and awesome as well as full of unbelievable moments of triumph and defeat. But there are stuff about the Olympics that’s just plain weird. Apparently, the IOC’s insistence on having a mascot each Games is among one of them. You know the cute and cuddly something-or-other that are put on T-shirts or made into plushies. Or give children unending nightmares. Yes, those things. Unfortunately for the IOC, very few of these mascots over the years have been cute or cuddly. Or even inspire Olympic spirit. If anything, they usually end up to be some poor sap in a soulless eyed fursuit that makes everyone vaguely uncomfortable, at best. So perhaps it might be therapeutic to make fun of these as I have on blog posts pertaining to mascots from Big 4 pro teams and US colleges. Yet, unlike those posts, I won’t hesitate to use Olympic mascots from past decades. Some of these you’ll find bizarre and stupid. Some you’ll find outright horrifying. But each of them will be unsettling in its own special way. And I’ll make sure to include the Parlympics, Youth Olympics, and ones from Olympic teams as well as those with unofficial designation. So for your reading pleasure, I give you house of horrors featuring Olympic mascots from the past and present. Proceed with caution and abandon hope all ye who enter here.

 

  1. Athena and Phevos: 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece
From SBNation: "This looks like one of those weird "adult comic strips" that you might nervously leaf through in the "sex" section of a library or bookstore when you're in grade school. It also kind of looks like if Keith Haring drew a guest strip of "Life in Hell." Either way, this is so, so weird. Two bizarre, bottom-heavy weirdos with five-inch arms holding hands and stumbling around Athens together. If you saw these things out on the street you'd have to admonish your children not to openly gawk."

From SBNation: “This looks like one of those weird “adult comic strips” that you might nervously leaf through in the “sex” section of a library or bookstore when you’re in grade school. It also kind of looks like if Keith Haring drew a guest strip of “Life in Hell.” Either way, this is so, so weird. Two bizarre, bottom-heavy weirdos with five-inch arms holding hands and stumbling around Athens together. If you saw these things out on the street you’d have to admonish your children not to openly gawk.”

2. Neve and Gliz: 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy

From SB Nation: "Torino (Ms. Turin if you're nasty) took a snowball and an ice cube and once again, totally unnecessarily, gave them teeth. Didn't need to do that. Not sure what you were trying to accomplish. Here's a picture of them dragging an unsuspecting fan back to their lair to snap his bones in half and sate themselves by sucking the delicious marrowbone jelly from within. That poor, poor man. Your sacrifice will not be forgotten, friend. You gave your life so that everyone else could get the hell out of Torino while these two monstrosities slept off their demonic bloodfeast. Bless you, sir. Whomever you may be."

From SB Nation: “Torino (Ms. Turin if you’re nasty) took a snowball and an ice cube and once again, totally unnecessarily, gave them teeth. Didn’t need to do that. Not sure what you were trying to accomplish. Here’s a picture of them dragging an unsuspecting fan back to their lair to snap his bones in half and sate themselves by sucking the delicious marrowbone jelly from within. That poor, poor man. Your sacrifice will not be forgotten, friend. You gave your life so that everyone else could get the hell out of Torino while these two monstrosities slept off their demonic bloodfeast. Bless you, sir. Whomever you may be.”

3. Coal, Copper, and Powder: 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA

From SB Nation: "I'm not sure why it's so much more terrifying to put a bear in MMA gloves than to just have him maul you with his fearsome claws, but there you have it. Powder and Copper look pretty benign and excited to be here, but Coal is cackling at your misfortune as he rears back to let fly with a Superman punch that is just going to obliterate you. And then he will maul you and feast upon your bones."

From SB Nation: “I’m not sure why it’s so much more terrifying to put a bear in MMA gloves than to just have him maul you with his fearsome claws, but there you have it. Powder and Copper look pretty benign and excited to be here, but Coal is cackling at your misfortune as he rears back to let fly with a Superman punch that is just going to obliterate you. And then he will maul you and feast upon your bones.”

4. Yoggl: 2012 Winter Youth Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria

From SB Nation: "Hoo boy. "Yoggl" is apparently pronounced "YOG." He is also apparently a mash-up between Progressive Flo, a Sherwin-Williams commercial and the cast of Bob's Burgers. Are you welcoming me to the Winter Youth Olympics or to the paint section at Lowe's? Because either way, I'd ... uh ... I'd like to speak to someone else. Please."

From SB Nation: “Hoo boy. “Yoggl” is apparently pronounced “YOG.” He is also apparently a mash-up between Progressive Flo, a Sherwin-Williams commercial and the cast of Bob’s Burgers. Are you welcoming me to the Winter Youth Olympics or to the paint section at Lowe’s? Because either way, I’d … uh … I’d like to speak to someone else. Please.”

5. Olly, Syd, and Minnie: 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia

From SB Nation: "G'DAY! Pleased to meet you, Bruce! We're a kookaburra, a platypus and an unnecessarily sexualized, anthropomorphic echidna! Not sure why we had to make her sexy, but we did anyway! You're welcome. The 2000 Sydney Olympics: pandering to the lucrative furry demographic before it was hip. (It's hip now, right?)"

From SB Nation: “G’DAY! Pleased to meet you, Bruce! We’re a kookaburra, a platypus and an unnecessarily sexualized, anthropomorphic echidna! Not sure why we had to make her sexy, but we did anyway! You’re welcome. The 2000 Sydney Olympics: pandering to the lucrative furry demographic before it was hip. (It’s hip now, right?)”

6. Amik: 1976 Winter Olympics in Montreal, Quebec, Canada

From SBNation: "This is supposed to be a beaver. Nietzsche's approximation of a beaver, maybe. They were in Canada and all they could think of was to slap a legless, toothless art-deco beaver onto the programs. I guess they're lucky they didn't wind up just going with their first idea, 'Syrupy, the Maple Syrup Bottle.'" And you thought the Montreal Canadien's mascot was bad enough for this city.

From SBNation: “This is supposed to be a beaver. Nietzsche’s approximation of a beaver, maybe. They were in Canada and all they could think of was to slap a legless, toothless art-deco beaver onto the programs. I guess they’re lucky they didn’t wind up just going with their first idea, ‘Syrupy, the Maple Syrup Bottle.'” And you thought the Montreal Canadien’s mascot was bad enough for this city.

7. Sam: 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, California, USA

From SBNation: "This halter-top-wearing, pantsless glad-hander was designed by the Walt Disney Company, because of course he was. Can you imagine us hosting the Olympics in the 1980s and NOT showing up with a Walt Disney-designed mascot? We'd be the laughingstock of the world! I don't have any idea what Sam's voice sounded like, but I'm guessing it was somewhere between Colonel Sanders and Paul Newman. You know who should have voiced this character, though? Richard Simmons. Take a look at Sam. Now imagine him talking in Richard Simmons' voice. You're welcome."

From SBNation: “This halter-top-wearing, pantsless glad-hander was designed by the Walt Disney Company, because of course he was. Can you imagine us hosting the Olympics in the 1980s and NOT showing up with a Walt Disney-designed mascot? We’d be the laughingstock of the world! I don’t have any idea what Sam’s voice sounded like, but I’m guessing it was somewhere between Colonel Sanders and Paul Newman. You know who should have voiced this character, though? Richard Simmons. Take a look at Sam. Now imagine him talking in Richard Simmons’ voice. You’re welcome.”

8. Misha: 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow, Russia, former Soviet Union

From SBNation: "The United States, of course, boycotted the 1980 Summer Olympics. We said it was about hostages or something, but I have a hunch that we just wanted to get as far away as possible from Misha, the calmly unsettling bear. Look at him up there, winking at you and carrying some flowers for you. He maybe wants to get to know you better, yes? You come over, maybe have some wine? We make good friends you and I, yes? Go away, Misha. You are a creep."

From SBNation: “The United States, of course, boycotted the 1980 Summer Olympics. We said it was about hostages or something, but I have a hunch that we just wanted to get as far away as possible from Misha, the calmly unsettling bear. Look at him up there, winking at you and carrying some flowers for you. He maybe wants to get to know you better, yes? You come over, maybe have some wine? We make good friends you and I, yes? Go away, Misha. You are a creep.”

9. Schneemann: 1976 Winter Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria

From SBNation: "Schneemann (fighter of the Night Man) is proof that even way back in 1976, the Olympic mascot design people didn't have a firm grasp on sanity. It's just a snowman head with arms and legs stuck onto it. The plush version is especially chilling. This is something that not even Calvin would make out of snow to annoy his father. I don't know what horrible sorcerer did this to you, Schneemann, but we will do our best to avenge you."

From SBNation: “Schneemann (fighter of the Night Man) is proof that even way back in 1976, the Olympic mascot design people didn’t have a firm grasp on sanity. It’s just a snowman head with arms and legs stuck onto it. The plush version is especially chilling. This is something that not even Calvin would make out of snow to annoy his father. I don’t know what horrible sorcerer did this to you, Schneemann, but we will do our best to avenge you.”

10. Wenlock and Mandeville: 2012 Summer Olympics in London, England, Great Britain

From SBNation: "Two all-seeing cyclops with pincers for hands and stern looks on their faces. They have no mouths and one of them is insisting that his entire crotch area be highlighted, as to better draw the eye. They are absolutely two seconds away from unfurling a laser-beam blast from their forehead jewels and laying waste to Olympic Stadium. What they thought was a book containing Mandeville's name was actually a dusty cookbook called 'How to make MAN into DEVILLEd eggs.'"

From SBNation: “Two all-seeing cyclops with pincers for hands and stern looks on their faces. They have no mouths and one of them is insisting that his entire crotch area be highlighted, as to better draw the eye. They are absolutely two seconds away from unfurling a laser-beam blast from their forehead jewels and laying waste to Olympic Stadium. What they thought was a book containing Mandeville’s name was actually a dusty cookbook called ‘How to make MAN into DEVILLEd eggs.'”

11. Izzy: 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia, USA

From Buzzfeed: "The 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics brought us Izzy, short for “What is he?” Despite this clever wordplay, he was much-maligned, partly due to his resemblance to a “Sperm in Sneakers.” Incidentally, he was the first computer-generated Olympic mascot. Overall, he looks disturbing-yet-harmless. Points for the fashion-forward color scheme and the use of the five Olympic rings on his butt and eyeballs, but otherwise, “yikes” at the very least."

From Buzzfeed: “The 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics brought us Izzy, short for “What is he?” Despite this clever wordplay, he was much-maligned, partly due to his resemblance to a “Sperm in Sneakers.” Incidentally, he was the first computer-generated Olympic mascot. Overall, he looks disturbing-yet-harmless. Points for the fashion-forward color scheme and the use of the five Olympic rings on his butt and eyeballs, but otherwise, “yikes” at the very least.”

12. Vucko: 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, former Yugoslavia

The Sarajevo IOC at the time said, "The happy Vucko is the symbol of man's centuries-old efforts to conquer nature, to gain friendship from a beast, to make a wolf become Vucko." One city official remarked, "Grandparents used to tell stories of the wolves in the mountains around Sarajevo to scare children. Now, they fall asleep with Vucko in their arms. There isn't a child without one." I find it hard to believe that anyone in Sarajevo would want to sleep with a jacked up Wiley E. Coyote. Then again, his redesign does have the makings of a great college mascot.

The Sarajevo IOC at the time said, “The happy Vucko is the symbol of man’s centuries-old efforts to conquer nature, to gain friendship from a beast, to make a wolf become Vucko.” One city official remarked, “Grandparents used to tell stories of the wolves in the mountains around Sarajevo to scare children. Now, they fall asleep with Vucko in their arms. There isn’t a child without one.” I find it hard to believe that anyone in Sarajevo would want to sleep with a jacked up Wiley E. Coyote. Then again, his redesign does have the makings of a great college mascot.

13. Sukki, Nokki, Lekki, and Tsukki: 1998 Winter Olympic Games in Nagano, Japan

Really, Japan? A bunch of owls made with the magic of MS Paint? What the hell? You're supposed to have the cuteness thing nailed flat. You could've at least gone with Hello Kitty or any other cute anime creature. Sheesh.

Really, Japan? A bunch of creepy owls made with the magic of MS Paint? What the hell? You’re supposed to have the cuteness thing nailed flat. You could’ve at least gone with Hello Kitty or any other cute anime creature. Sheesh.

14. Cobi: 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain

Are those Olympic rings on his crotch or his pubic hair? And no, I don't want him to hug me. Get him away! Please get him away from me!

Are those Olympic rings on his crotch or his pubic hair? And no, I don’t want him to hug me. Get him away! Please get him away from me!

15. Hidy and Howdy: 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Alberta, Canada

From Listverse: "Named deliberately after folky sorts of greetings, these cowboy-dressed polar bears aimed to represent Western Canadian hospitality. Employed during the 1988 Calgary Olympics, these giant, furry bear suits came off less hospitable than they did just plain creepy, looking like cheap teddy bears with five o’clock shadows – creepier still knowing a grown (and likely sweaty) man was hiding inside."

From Listverse: “Named deliberately after folky sorts of greetings, these cowboy-dressed polar bears aimed to represent Western Canadian hospitality. Employed during the 1988 Calgary Olympics, these giant, furry bear suits came off less hospitable than they did just plain creepy, looking like cheap teddy bears with five o’clock shadows – creepier still knowing a grown (and likely sweaty) man was hiding inside.”

16. Roni: 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York, USA

From Bleacher Report: "So, since all we can remember is beating the Soviets in ice hockey, we probably don't remember Roni the Raccoon. And that's for the best. I didn't realize the raccoon was considered "a traditional American animal," but according to the mascot powers that be, it is. So there's that. The other reason Roni was chosen was because his facial design allegedly represents the kinds of hats and goggles used by "competitors." Because that's not a reach at all."

From Bleacher Report: “So, since all we can remember is beating the Soviets in ice hockey, we probably don’t remember Roni the Raccoon. And that’s for the best. I didn’t realize the raccoon was considered “a traditional American animal,” but according to the mascot powers that be, it is. So there’s that. The other reason Roni was chosen was because his facial design allegedly represents the kinds of hats and goggles used by “competitors.” Because that’s not a reach at all.”

17. Lele: 2014 Summer Youth Olympics in Nanjing, China

They Lele are supposed to be rainflower stones according to the Chinese. However, to me, they're just the result of what happens to minions if you give them LSD. Doesn't really set a great example for the kids.

They Lele are supposed to be rainflower stones according to the Chinese. However, to me, they’re just the result of what happens to minions if you give them LSD. Doesn’t really set a great example for the kids.

18. Lizzie: 2000 Summer Parlympics in Sydney, Australia

Look into her eyes. All you see is that this frill necked lizard is as cold blooded as the blood that runs through her veins. Wouldn't want to trust her with a bunch of disabled athletes.

Look into her eyes. All you see is that this frill necked lizard is as cold blooded as the blood that runs through her veins. Wouldn’t want to trust her with a bunch of disabled athletes.

19. Fu Niu Lele: 2008 Summer Parlympics in Beijing, China

According to Wikipedia, Fiu Niu Lele is supposed to represent "a harmonious co-existence between mankind and nature," "athletes with a disability striving to make progress," as well as the concepts of transcendence, equality, and integration. However, I bet this technicolor cow was inspired by some Chinese acid trip and prone to make anyone who messes with her disabled. Just saying.

According to Wikipedia, Fiu Niu Lele is supposed to represent “a harmonious co-existence between mankind and nature,” “athletes with a disability striving to make progress,” as well as the concepts of transcendence, equality, and integration. However, I bet this technicolor cow was inspired by some Chinese acid trip and prone to make anyone who messes with her disabled. Just saying.

20. Polar Bear, Snow Lepoard, and Dore Hare: 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia

Looks like the Russians have managed to make a trio of normally cute and cuddly snow animals into creatures that will haunt your dreams. And no, I don't want a hug from the polar bear who's easily the creepiest of the 3. Seriously, keep him away!

Looks like the Russians have managed to make a trio of normally cute and cuddly snow animals into creatures that will haunt your dreams. And no, I don’t want a hug from the polar bear who’s easily the creepiest of the 3. Seriously, keep him away!

21. Ray of Light and Snowflake: 2014 Winter Parlympics in Sochi, Russia

I guess their design was based on characters from a nightmarish Russian children's show. Because to have them as Parlympic mascots is a great disservice for the disabled. Seriously, take them away!

I guess their design was based on characters from a nightmarish Russian children’s show. Because to have them as Parlympic mascots is a great disservice for the disabled. Seriously, take them away!

22. Vinicius and Tom: 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janiero, Brazil

Junkee has them headlined as: "The Brazil 2016 Olympic Mascots Are Either Rejected Pokemon Or The Result of A Terrifying Fever Dream." Junkee goes on describing them as: "One’s basically a rave version of Meowth and the other is a hallucinogenic artichoke that may or may not murder you in your dreams."

Junkee has them headlined as: “The Brazil 2016 Olympic Mascots Are Either Rejected Pokemon Or The Result of A Terrifying Fever Dream.” Junkee goes on describing them as: “One’s basically a rave version of Meowth and the other is a hallucinogenic artichoke that may or may not murder you in your dreams.”

23. Quatchi, Miga, Sumi, and Mukmuk: 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British British Columbia, Canada

Not sure if making a Sasquatch cute and cuddly was appropriate. Still, these are just plain acid trip weird. Also worth noting that Quatchi was mistaken for Pedobear in a Polish newspaper.

Not sure if making a Sasquatch cute and cuddly was appropriate. Still, these are just plain acid trip weird. Also worth noting that Quatchi was mistaken for Pedobear in a Polish newspaper.

24. Lyo and Merly: 2010 Summer Youth Olympics in Singapore

I don't know about you. But these mascots will give any child athlete nightmares. Must be part of Singapore's strategy. And you thought Americans were crazy when it came to youth sports.

I don’t know about you. But these mascots will give any child athlete nightmares. Must be part of Singapore’s strategy. And you thought Americans were crazy when it came to youth sports.

25. The Fuwa: Beibei, Jingjing, Huanhuan, Yingying, and Nini: 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China

Okay, they're quite cute. But they also give me creepy vibes once you realize these are Olympic mascots for a polluted and oligarchic state. Yeah, I haven't forgotten about that.

Okay, they’re quite cute. But they also give me creepy vibes once you realize these are Olympic mascots for a polluted and oligarchic state. Yeah, I haven’t forgotten about that.

26. Ginga: Brazil National Olympic Team

While the jaguar does make sense to represent Team Brazil, his Cheshire Cat smile is particularly disturbing. Will surely keep the kids at Rio up at night in terror. As they don't have enough to worry about already.

While the jaguar does make sense to represent Team Brazil, his Cheshire Cat smile is particularly disturbing. Will surely keep the kids at Rio up at night in terror. As they don’t have enough to worry about already.

27. Cheburashka: Russia National Olympic Team

This is supposed to be a Russian cartoon character from the Soviet Era. Really don't have great feeling about what happened to those kids. I don't think he's hugging them.

This is supposed to be a Russian cartoon character from the Soviet Era. Really don’t have great feeling about what happened to those kids. I don’t think he’s hugging them.

28. Chukuru: South Africa National Olympic Team

Now I understand that South Africa has him represent their Olympic team to raise awareness on Rhino poaching. However, he more or less looks like a Rhino dressed for a rave which is hard for me to take seriously. It's hilarious.

Now I understand that South Africa has him represent their Olympic team to raise awareness on Rhino poaching. However, he more or less looks like a Rhino dressed for a rave which is hard for me to take seriously. It’s hilarious.

29. BK the Boxing Kangaroo: Australia National Olympic Team

Well, we at least know he's a guy. But he's still a kangaroo with boxing gloves on. Thought there's something strange about that face.

Well, we at least know he’s a guy. But he’s still a kangaroo with boxing gloves on. Thought there’s something strange about that face.

30. Pride: Great Britain National Olympic Team

Yes, I know the lion is a national symbol of Britain. However, he doesn't seem to strike me as a lion that would tear me to shreds. In fact, he's pretty lame.

Yes, I know the lion is a national symbol of Britain. However, he doesn’t seem to strike me as a lion that would tear me to shreds. In fact, he’s pretty lame.

31. Champy: Netherlands National Olympic Team

Think of him as if he was the Human Torch created for a children's show. Still, have to hand it to the Dutch to have a torch mascot, which is appropriate. But lame.

Think of him as if he was the Human Torch created for a children’s show. Still, have to hand it to the Dutch to have a torch mascot, which is appropriate. But lame.

32. Komak: Canada National Olympic Team

Kind of reminds me of Bullwinkle's embarrassing cousin he tries to avoid talking about. For good reason.

Kind of reminds me of Bullwinkle’s embarrassing cousin he tries to avoid talking about. For good reason.

33. Guanin: Puerto Rico Olympic Team

Apparently, for some reason, the Puerto Ricans thought it was appropriate to have a human flower inspired from an acid sequence as their Olympic mascot. Even today, people are asking why they thought this was a good idea.

Apparently, for some reason, the Puerto Ricans thought it was appropriate to have a human flower inspired from an acid sequence as their Olympic mascot. Even today, people are asking why they thought this was a good idea.

34. Srećko: Serbia National Olympic Team

Well, this is kind of cute since it looks like a little baby bald eagle. However, it's supposed to be a Griffon Vulture. Yeah, it might piss off Americans.

Well, this is kind of cute since it looks like a little baby bald eagle. However, it’s supposed to be a Griffon Vulture. Yeah, it might piss off Americans.

35. Agrik: Belarus National Olympic Team

Holy shit, what the hell is that thing? Just reminds me of a psychokilling cartoon character. Really, this thing is creeping me out.

Holy shit, what the hell is that thing? Just reminds me of a psychokilling cartoon character. Really, this thing is creeping me out.

 

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