The Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (Tokyo 2020) have announced that a national competition will take place to decide the Games’ official mascots. Members of the public in Japan will be invited to submit mascot design proposals. There will be an innovative judging process whereby elementary school children across the country will select the winning set of designs from a shortlist.
The Olympic and Paralympic mascots have become a much-loved feature of the Games, garnering attention from fans all over the world. They add to the excitement surrounding the Games, while also communicating the values of the Olympic and Paralympic Movements and reflecting the culture of the host country. The mascots for the Tokyo 2020 Games will therefore play a key role in introducing Japanese culture to the world.
Mascots are also a popular element of modern Japanese culture, usually created to promote a particular region, event or business. They are often deployed by local governments or other organisations to stimulate tourism and economic development, or by companies to build on their corporate identity.
Anticipating public interest in the choice of mascots for the Tokyo 2020 Games, Tokyo 2020 set up a special panel last year to decide the process by which the mascots would be chosen. The panel met on numerous occasions and earlier this month submitted its recommendations, which have now been approved by Tokyo 2020.
In addition to professional illustrators and designers, members of the public in Japan – including non-Japanese residing in the country – will be invited to submit their personal mascot designs through Japanese and English-language websites. A “creative brief” with a comprehensive set of design guidelines and criteria is being made available for applicants, who will be required to submit designs for both Olympic and Paralympic mascots. The Tokyo 2020 mascot review panel will select a shortlist from the submitted design sets.
In a unique twist to customary procedures, the shortlisted designs will be reviewed by elementary school classes across Japan, including those in international schools. Pupils in individual classes will vote, with each class choosing their single preferred set of designs. Tokyo 2020 will select the design set which attracts the largest number of classroom votes.
Said Yoshiko Ikoma, Vice Chairperson of the Mascot Selection Process Panel: “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. We think this process gives the public – and especially schoolchildren – a unique opportunity to participate in the design and selection process.”
The timeline for the design and selection process will be as follows:
- August 1 to 14 – design submission period (submission via a special website)
- December – mascot panel selects shortlist of design sets
- December 2017 to January 2018 – elementary school children vote on the shortlist
- March 2018 – design set with the largest number of votes is announced as the winner
- July to August 2018 – mascot panel decides names for the winning mascots
The Creative Brief for the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 Mascots is available for download here.