Vancouver’s abandonment of its Olympics mascots
As of Sunday, February 28, the Vancouver Olympic games came to a close with a spectacular, albeit quirky, closing ceremonies showcasing some standard Canadian stereotypes and previewing what Russia will have in store for their hosting of the 2014 Winter games. As I watched expected appearances like that of Canadian singing sensation Michael Buble and some not so expected appearances, mainly that of William Shatner, I could not help but feel like something was missing.
Where were the cute Olympic mascots in all of this celebration?
The three official mascots; Quatchi, a young sasquatch who loves to play hockey, Miga a part sea-bear part orca that enjoys snowboarding and Sumi, an animal spirit and amalgamation of multiple British Columbian animals. Oh and my personal favourite, Mukmuk the unofficial “side-kick” marmot who cheers them all on. Following in the footsteps of China’s 2008 Olympic mascots, all four creatures were cute, cuddly and ready to be plastered on anything ranging from t-shirts to towels.
Of course they were faced with much criticism, mainly due to their Asian styled influence and distasteful deviation of their original native symbols, but VANOC gave Canadian enough time to adjust and adjust they did. Travelling to downtown Vancouver led me to witness the mascots everywhere. If there wasn’t a giant poster of their face at a skytrain station, then you could be sure that the person sitting next to you had a Miga hat on or a Quatchi backpack. Despite how embarrassing the community felt about these critters it could not be denied how marketable they were in the same sense that Pokemon was. I myself own a large Mukmuk plushie and keychain, despite not being all that involved or influenced by the Olympic craze over the past few months.
Popularity was certainly not an issue, so it is even more puzzling that the mascots remained absent through the duration of the ceremonies. Perhaps the performances were organized years in advanced, during the height of the mascot unpopularity, leading them to leave them out though it hardly seems to be the case. With the inside cauldron malfunctioning during the opening ceremonies organizers quickly and cleverly devised a humorous way to bring the cauldron up at the beginning of the closing ceremonies; so why could they not have people put on large mascot costumes and parade around with the Mounties or large inflatable beavers?
It was a small detail, but seemed like VANOC admitting to finding their own mascots embarrassing and trying to not show them on the world stage. It would have been nice to see them stick with their initial designs instead of falling back onto all other Canadian stereotypes, but then I guess trying to appease everyone is yet another way of being Canadian
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Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada