Olympic Mascots

Jan 27
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) states that "Olympic mascots are the ambassadors of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. They embody the spirit of the Olympics and play a vital role in welcoming athletes and visitors to the Games."

The mascots have the important job of upholding the Olympic spirit and highlighting the values of the Games for which they were created. Mascots are also tasked with promoting the history and culture of their host city.

At the 1968 Winter Olympics in Grenoble, France the first Olympic mascot made its (unofficial) debut. He was a little man on skis named "Shuss" and is red, white, and blue, which are the colours of France's flag. Instead of mascot, at the time Schuss was referred to as a character.

The first official mascot of the Olympic Games came during the 1972 summer games in Munich, Germany. "Waldi" was a colourful dachshund, a popular animal in the German state of Bavaria,  and symbolized endurance, tenacity and agility.

The 1980 Paralympics in Arnhem, Netherlands debut the first official mascot for a Paralympic games when they unveiled a pair of squirrels named Noggi and Joggi. The first Winter Paralympics mascot debuted in 1992 in Albertville, France and was a mountain on a mono-ski named "Alpy". 

Since the 1968 Olympic Games and the 1992 Summer and Winter Paralympic Games, each rendition has featured a mascot whether an animal, human, or even an animated piece of steel . The three Canadian cities that have hosted the Olympics have also created interesting characters that have paid homage to the history and culture of each city.

Amik, Montreal 1976

"Amik" is the Algonquin word for Beaver, which is language of the indigenous territories that modern day Montreal is located on. The beaver is also on the reverse side of the five cent nickel.

The beaver is the national animal of Canada as it has a long and storied history as they were made into fur hats for the cold winters. The animal is known to have characteristics of patience and hard work.

"Amik" was given the name after a nation-wide contest was held to name the mascot. Two different versions were made, one with a red ribbon to represent the ribbons for the medals and a multi-colored stripe to represent Montreal's organizing committee.

Hidy & Howdy, Calgary 1988

"Hidy and Howdy" were brother and sister and the first pair of mascots to represent the Olympic Games and were a big hit amongst locals and international fans in attendance. The names were chosen  by the citizens of Calgary after the committee received 7000 submissions.
The names come from Calgary's western-style hospitality. “Hidy” is an extension of “hi”, and “Howdy” is short for “how do you do". The pair are polar bears dressed in western wear. Polar bears were chosen as they are active animals during harsh winter temperatures. The clothing on them represents the western culture of Calgary made famous by the Calgary Stampede. Hidy was the first female Olympic mascot.
Hidy and Howdy mascots were used for four years at events leading up to the 1988 Winter Olympics. They were soon retired after from public appearance but they were featured on the "Welcome to Calgary" signs posted at the city limits. They were also featured in the 1993 movie "Cool Runnings", a movie about the Jamaican bobsled team.

Quatchi ,Miga & Sumi, Vancouver 2010

"Quatchi and Miga" were inspired by the animals native to the Vancouver area as well as from tales from Indigenous groups along the west coast of Canada. Quatchi is a sasquatch with thick fur that is a popular local legend. Miga is a mythical sea bear, made up of a killer whale and a Kermode bear which are native to the area.
Vancouver was the first Canadian Paralympics to have an official mascot in "Sumi" who is part orca whale, thunderbird, and black bear. The name Sumi is based off the Salish word "Sumesh" which means guardian spirit.

Each of the three mascots also represent a First Nations group, Miga represents Musqueam Indian Band, Quatchi represents Lil'wat First Nation and Sumi represents Squamish Nation. All three nations are located along the west coast of British Columbia around the Vancouver area.
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