Five cartoon images of rams were on Monday night unveiled as the mascots for the 2010 Asian Games to be held in Guangdong.
5 rams unveiled as Asian Games' mascots
Rams have a long association with the city.
Also, in the ancient Chinese language, the character yang, (ram) is identical to the character xiang (luck).
Luo Jingjun, publicity director of the Guangzhou Asian Games Organizing Committee, said: "The final design was developed out of the legends of Guangzhou, a 2,222-year-old city which is nicknamed the City of Five Rams."
The mascots are named A Xiang, A He, A Ru, A Yi and Le Yangyang.
"A" usually refers to cuteness in Guangdong culture, while Xiang means auspiciousness, Ruyi means the satisfaction of a wish, and Le Yangyang means joyful.
When you put their names together, they are the hopes of Guangzhou people that the Games will bring peace, auspiciousness and happiness to the people of Asia, Luo said.
In a congratulatory message, Sheikh Ahnad Al-Hahad-Al, president of the Olympic Council of Asia, said the Mascots express Asian people's desire for peace and friendship.
The mascots are quite similar to those of the Beijing Olympics. The Fuwa are also five cartoon characters whose names collectively mean "Beijing welcomes you".
The Asian Games mascots also represent the five colors of the Olympic rings.
"We think rams, as approved by the Olympic Council of Asia early this month, represent this ancient southern city," Luo said.
Since last March, 812 entries from eight countries and regions were submitted, but none won approval by the judges.
Some traditional Lingnan (South China) animals and fruit were used in the designs, such as the South China Tiger, the lion dance and lychees.
The organizing committee, however, decided to solicit more ideas from five professional teams, which generated 10 designs.
The winner was decided in January, after an initial proposal was improved and refined.
The mascots will be used to boost the marketing activities of the Games. On Thursday, the organizers signed their first sponsor, Guangzhou Automotive Group. The group is expected to pay 600 million yuan ($86.9 million).
(China Daily April 29, 2008)