We celebrate a handful of the disasters of design that have cropped up when Olympic Games organisers have tried to find a cuddly face to front their event.
1. Amik (Montreal 1976)
Yes, you will find some outrageously gaudy Olympic mascots in the history books, but at least they understood the basic principle that a mascot of supposed to engage children in the event (and flog a load of merchandise). With that in mind, we can’t figure out who thought a black silhouetted beaver in a red sash was the embodiment of the Games.
2. Waldi (Munich 1972)
Nothing says Olympic Games quite like a rainbow-coloured sausage dog. But Munich – or at least the organising committee – took Waldi to their hearts to such an extent that the marathon route was designed to draw a picture of him around the city. The distinctive daschund’s place in history was some what overshadowed by bleaker events at the 1972 Games.
3. Athena and Phevos (Athens 2004)
This pair managed to offend more than a few pairs of eyes. Some pondered why the Olympic Games seemed to be promoting obesity, while others claimed the mascots were ever so slightly phallic. Most offended of all were the Greek Society of the Friends of the Ancients who started legal action against the design of the mascots claiming they “mock the spiritual values of the Hellenic Civilization by degrading these same holy personalities that were revered during the ancient Olympic Games”.
4. Izzy (Atlanta 1996)
The first computer-generated mascot in Olympic history didn’t exactly strike a telling first blow on behalf of technology. Unlike his hand-drawn predecessors he could easily morph shape, but he became ‘affectionately’ known as The Sperm in Sneakers.
5. The Fuwa (Beijing 2008)
The quintet of Chinese good luck dolls were disowned by artist Han Meilin by the time the Games rolled around. And no wonder. He draw more than 1,000 different versions of mascots, suffering two heart attacks in the process, only for repeated meddling demanding the inclusion of particular Chinese cultural symbols.
The ugly characters, unwanted even by their creator, then appeared to be cursed. A series of an unfortunate links, which could be linked to the symbolism of each of the Fuwa, were pointed out in the media.