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Race Begins for Olympics Mascot

The question of the mascot for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games has been the subject of discussions since the city won its bid to host the event.

In the two years since then, a host of Chinese symbols have been considered.

The cuddly-looking giant panda; the endangered golden monkey and red-crowned crane; and the traditional cartoon figure the Monkey King all have their advocates.

The Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad (BOCOG) has announced that the selection process for the mascot design officially started Thursday, and the final mascot will be unveiled on June 1 next year.

Professional design organizations and individuals from all over the world will have the chance to propose their designs. Children's opinions will be considered an important part of the selection process.

Vice Director of BOCOG Cultural Activity Department Zhang Ming says that BOCOG will send hundreds of solicitations for designs of the mascots for the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Those who are interested in participating can also download the invitation from BOCOG's official website.

Zhang said that as well as symbolizing the spirit of the Games, the Beijing mascot should be characteristic of Chinese culture, endearing to children and of universal appeal to adults.

In addition to a selection panel of experts, an appraisal committee comprising representatives from different fields will review the submissions. However, citizens will not be permitted to vote for the mascot.

"There won't be a public vote for the mascot as there was in the selection of the design schemes for the National Stadium," said BOCOG Vice President Jiang Xiaoyu. "We will seek legal protection before we publish the final decision."

Zhang said all the design submissions should include individuals or groups of main cartoon figures and five extended figures, involving equestrian, swimming, running, cycling and gymnastics events.

"The mascot should also have a marketing value that can be easily attached to different Olympic licensed products, such as T-shirts, bags, cups, pens, and so on, and look good on TV, the Internet, mobile phones and anything to do with the Olympics," Zhang added. "The income from the mascot of next month's Athens Olympic Games is expected to reach 720 million Euros, with 10 percent of it going to the organizing committee."

The designs must be submitted by 5:30 PM on December 1. The entire process of judging, revising, reporting and legal registering will be completed before May.

(China Daily August 6, 2004)

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