11/24 09:32 CST Rio Olympic mascot is a yellow cat-like figure
Rio Olympic mascot is a yellow cat-like figure
AP Sports Writer
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) --- A bright yellow cat-like figure, which also combines
elements of monkeys and birds, is the mascot of the 2016 Olympics in Rio de
The smiley-faced mascot represents the animal life of Brazil. The mascot for
the Paralympics is a mopped-headed doll with leafy hair, meant to represent the
vast diversity of the flora in Brazil.
The mascots made their first official appearance on Monday at a school in the
Santa Teresa neighborhood, which is a mix of precarious slums and homes for
millionaires. The school is named for former International Olympic Committee
President Juan Antonio Samaranch.
"Their purpose is to delight and engage the audience, particularly the
children," Carlos Nuzman, head of the Rio organizing committee, said of the
mascots. "In addition, the mascots will always be remembered by the people."
A public poll will be conducted to name the two from a shortlist of
possibilities. The possibilities for the Olympic mascot are: Oba, Tiba Tuque
and Vinicius The choice for the Paralympic mascots are: Eba, Esquindim and Tom.
Votes for the names can be cast on the organizing committee's website and
Twitter feed. The winning names will be announced on Dec. 14.
The cuddly, cartoon-like mascots are also big business.
Organizers hope that Olympic merchandise, much of it carrying the mascot logo,
will generate sales of 1 billion reals ($400 million). The organizing committee
will receive about 15-20 percent of the sales of branded merchandise, with the
rest going to licensed manufacturers and vendors.
Income from merchandising makes up a chunk of the $3 billion operating budget.
Half of that budget is to come from the sale of local sponsorships.
The Olympic merchandising campaign will comprise about 12,000 products aimed
mostly at children. About 90 percent of sales are expected from the domestic
"Our mascots represent the diversity of our people, our way of life and our
natural environment," said Beth Lula, the organizing committee's brand director.
Olympic officials expect the mascot to represent 25 percent of merchandising
The mascot for this year's World Cup in Brazil --- an armadillo named Fuleco
--- generated little interest. Some blamed this on pre-World Cup protests, and
repeated delays and distractions in preparing venues.
In addition to the operating budget, Rio is spending about $20 billion in a mix
of private and public money to prepare sports venues and urban infrastructure.
Brazil spent about $15 billion on the World Cup.
On the Web: www.rio2016.com/mascotes
Stephen Wade on Twitter: http://twitter.com/StephenWadeAP