Tokyo 2020 asks the public to design its mascot

The Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games organisers have launched a public competition calling for Japanese nationals and residents to submit mascot designs – which will later be voted on by school children.

The Tokyo 2020 logos, by Asao Tokolo

The Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games committee is asking the public to design its two mascots.

The competition is calling for Japanese nationals and residents to submit designs, which will then be shortlisted by a Tokyo 2020 panel, and eventually voted on by primary school children in Japan.

Mascots “important” in “modern Japanese culture”

The community design competition aims to give the public “a unique opportunity to participate in the design and selection process”, says Yoshiko Ikoma, vice chairperson of the Mascot Selection Process Panel.

Applicants – who need not be designers – must submit their concepts through both Japanese and English-language websites. Submissions are required to include one design for the Olympics and another for the Paralympics.

Mascots – or yuru-chara – are popular in Japan, and are used as visual icons for places, regions, organisations and businesses. Well-known ones include Kumamon, an elated, rosy-cheeked bear used for the Kumamoto Prefecture region, and Funassyi, a make-believe, pear-shaped, yellow character representing the city of Funabashi.

Ikoma says: “Given the importance of mascots in modern Japanese culture, we always knew there would be huge public interest in the selection of the Tokyo 2020 mascot.”

Olympics logo chosen from public competition

This is not the first time the Tokyo 2020 organisers have turned to the public; the Olympic and Paralympic logos for the games were born out of a pubic competition in 2015. A chequered logo by Asao Tokolo was chosen out of nearly 15,000 entries.

Kenjiro Sano’s logo, which was scrapped following a plagiarism row

The public competition followed the Olympics’ original logo – which was designed by Kenjiro Sano – being scrapped due to claims that Sano had allegedly plagiarised an existing logo for the Théâtre de Liège in Belgium.

Application deadline of 14 August

Applications for the mascot design competition must be made online. The website will launch in July, and applicants will then have from 1-14 August to submit their designs.

The Tokyo 2020 mascot review panel will then shortlist designs in December, with school children choosing their favourites in January 2018. A winner will be announced in March 2018, and the review panel will name the mascots in July 2018.

For more details on how to apply, head to the Tokyo 2020 website. A full design brief with guidelines and criteria will be announced in July.

Previous Olympic mascots

The Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games mascots
Vinicius and Tom, the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games mascots
Wenlock and Mandeville, the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic mascots


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