The word 'mascot' was first popularised in 1880 when a French composer, Edmond Audran, wrote a popular comic opera called 'La Mascotte', which when translated into English means' an animal, person or object that brings luck'. This promoted the concept of using mascots for every large sporting event. Let's take a look at a few mascots used in the Olympics and football.
Waldi was created for the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, Germany. Waldi was a dachshund, a popular breed of dog from Germany, who represented essential qualities in an athlete - resistance, firmness and alertness. His head and tail were blue and his body had stripes in the Olympic colours and expressed the fun and joy of the Olympic Games.
Amik was created for the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal, Canada. The mascot was a beaver—an animal that represents hard work. Beavers are also native to Canada.
The first major mascot in the history of the Olympic Games was Misha, who was created for the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow, Russia. Misha was an extremely popular bear and was often also known as Mishka or The Olympic Mishka. In Russian, the name Mikhail (Michael) is often shortened to Misha. Misha was always portrayed wearing a belt with the five Olympic colours and a golden buckle shaped like the five Olympic Rings. During the closing ceremony of the games, Misha was seen with a huge tear in his eye.
SAM THE EAGLE
Sam the Eagle was the mascot of the 1984 Summer Olympics held in Los Angeles, USA. Designed by Walt Disney, Sam wore the outfit of the legendary American, Uncle Sam, with sparkling stars on a red, white and blue background. The bald eagle is also the national bird of the United States, where the games were held.
The friendly tiger, Hodori was the mascot for the 1988 Seoul Olympics held in South Korea. The mascot portrayed the friendly and hospitable traditions of the Koreans. The name comes from 'Ho', which is derived from the Korean word for 'tiger', and 'Dori', which is an acronym for 'boys' in Korea. The mascot wore the Olympic Rings around its neck, much like a medal, with a traditional Korean dance hat on its head. The name was chosen from 2,295 suggestions sent in by the public.
HIDY AND HOWDY
Hidy and Howdy were the official mascots of the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Canada. The twin polar bears were the first dual mascots of the Olympic Games and wore western cowboy style outfits. They took the form of inseparable siblings. The names of the bears were chosen from 7,000 different entries that were sent in through a contest sponsored by the Calgary Zoo. Their names express a feeling of brotherhood and welcome. The name Hidy is an extension of 'hi', while Howdy is the American slang for 'hello'.
The mascot of the 1994 FIFA World Cup, Striker was a smiling dog dressed in a red, white and blue football uniform with the words 'USA 94' written on its t-shirt. The dog is a common pet animal in USA and was thus chosen as the mascot for the World Cup.
Footix, a rooster, was the mascot for the 1998 FIFA World Cup in France. The rooster is one of the national symbols of France, which is why it was chosen as the mascot. Footix had a blue body and the words 'FRANCE 98' written on his chest. He also had a broad red collar around his yellow head. His name ends in 'ix' with reference to the famous comics featuring Asterix the Gaul, in which all the characters had names ending in 'ix'.
SYD, OLLY AND MILLIE
The three mascots from the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia were based on native Australian animals. Their names were short forms of Sydney, Olympic and Millennium. Syd, a platypus, was a symbol of the environment and captured the strength and energy of Australia and its people. Olly, a Kookaburra, symbolized the Olympic spirit of universal generosity. Millie, an echidna, kept all the facts and figures at her fingertips and was known as an information guru.
GOLEO VI AND PILLE
Goleo VI, commonly known as Goleo, was the mascot of the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany. Goleo was a lion wearing a Germany shirt with the number '06' on it and was seen along with a talking football named Pille. 'Goleo' is a combination of the words 'goal' and 'leo', the Latin word for 'lion'. In Germany, Pille is a common sports term used for a football. The white t-shirt with a black collar and sleeve rims worn by the mascot was similar to what the German national team players wore between the 1950s and 1970s. Goleo also had his name written on the back of his t-shirt.
THE FUWA: BEIBEI, JINGJING, HUANHUAN, YINGYING AND NINI
The five mascots for the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China were Beibei, a blue fish, Jingjing, a black panda, Huanhuan, a red flame, Yingying, a yellow antelope, and Nini, a green swallow. Together they were known as Fuwa. Their five names together - Bei Jing Huan Ying Ni - translate as 'Welcome to Beijing'. The Fuwa, also known as good luck dolls, were originally known as Friendlies. Each of the mascots' names is a traditional way of expressing affection for children in China. They drew their colours from the five Olympic Rings - blue, black, red, yellow and green. The characters of each of the mascots represented four of China’s most popular animals while Huanhuan represented the Olympic Flame.