By Chesney Hearst, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – On Saturday, November 22nd, Olympic mascots from previous games visited Rio’s Maracanã Stadium in anticipation of the unveiling of the official mascots for the 2016 Rio Olympic and Paralympic Games.
While the visit was cut short due to the heat combined with the heavy costumes, the mascots made time to meet and greet children from the Vila Olímpica de Santa Cruz (Olympic Village of Santa Cruz). The mascots also posed with the children for photographs and even practiced a couple of samba steps.
The visiting mascots are Misha, from the 1980 Moscow Olympics, Athena from the 2004 Athens Olympics, Fu Niu Lele from the 2008 Beijing Games and Wenlock and Mandeville from the 2012 Olympic Games held in London.
The appearances of the costumed characters in the city is a lead up to the official unveiling of the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic and Paralympic Games mascot.
The first official appearance of the Rio mascot is scheduled for Monday, November 24th at the Ginásio Experimental Olímpico (Experimental Olympic Gymnasium) better known as GEO, located in the neighborhood of Santa Teresa. A release including the images of the mascot will be given to the press tonight (Sunday, November 23rd).
The Rio Olympic and Paralympic Games Organizing Committee, with the help of the Anima Mundi company, launched the call for mascot proposals earlier this month on November 5th. At that time, the committee also announced that the chosen proposal would win a prize of R$50,000.
“The idea in opening a selection process is to value the Brazilian animation, film and design market and encourage creativity to develop the best ideas,” director of the 2016 Rio Brand Committee, Beth Lula said in a prepared statement at the time of the call for proposals. “The theme is open. The creative proposal that best responds to the target public, children and young people, will be selected.”
A focus group of children, ages 6 to 12, helped with the final approval of the Rio mascots. “The proposal that the judges chose was accepted by this group of children, which is our target audience,” Lula told Agência Brasil, adding, “We’re pretty confident with this choice.”
The Mascot name will be determined by the public through online voting. Participants will have a choice of six names and the winning name will be announced on December 14th.