And the mascot for Beijing Olympics is ...
Updated: 2005-11-11 18:58
After a three-year lobbying campaign and a yearlong closed-door selection
process, 2008 Beijing Olympic mascot, or possibly five mascots, will be
announced here at 8 o'clock Friday night.
Mascots are the most marketable symbols in the Olympics business. Beijing's
decision will have a direct impact on sales of licensed mascot products, which
could help the organizer offset part of its costs, estimated at 2.3 billion US
Sydney sold 213 million US dollars-worth of its three mascot dolls and Athens
earned 201 million by selling its mascots, Athena and Phevos. It is estimated
that Beijing's mascots would bring a profit of more than 300 million US dollars.
Wu Jiaqing, deputy head of the bidding team for Lianyungang city of east
China's Jiangsu Province, and his colleagues have been shuttling between
Lianyungang and Beijing since December 2002, advocating the Monkey King, a
classic Chinese fairytale figure, as the mascot for Beijing's Olympic Games.
"No one lobbied for a mascot before the Olympics in Los Angeles in 1984,"
said Lu Dongbin, professor of the People's University of China, "Because
organizers always lost money at thattime."
Southwest China's Sichuan Province has spent more than 4 million yuan (about
489,000 dollars) promoting the Giant panda for the mascot, going so far as to
appoint a vice provincial governor to oversee the campaign.
The province also set up a special office in Beijing to lobby officials of
the Olympic organizing committee.
Three northwest China's provinces have jointly recommended the Tibetan
antelope as the mascot, hoping the move would draw more public attention to the
More than a dozen other candidates, including a Chinese dragon,a tiger and a
red-crowned crane, also joined the heated campaign.
Despite the bright prospect of huge profit from selling licenced mascot
products, local governments are not the direct beneficiary as the money will go
to the Olympic Organizing Committee.
Local governments think their bidding campaigns could benefit their local
"It does make sense for local governments to consider local booming in
tourism, name recognition and investment in a transitional period from central
planning to a market economy," professor Lu said.
The Monkey King is widely known in China as a legendary hero in the novel
"Journey To the West", whose home "flower-fruit mountain" lies near downtown of
Three-year's bidding has been reciprocated by an obvious increase in the
city's tourism revenue.
Statistics from the city's tourism bureau show that total tourism revenues in
the first ten months of this year have accounted for 5.2 billion yuan
(approximately 636.5 million US dollars), up 48.4 percent year-on-year, about
one tenth of the city's annual GDP.
Visitors to the city this year has so far amounted to 6.39 million, some
41,000 of which were foreigners.
However, the total expenditure of lobbying for the Monkey Kingwill not exceed
three million yuan (approximately 367.2 thousand US dollars), according to Wu
"We have been a winner in the big campaign," said Wu, "even if the Monkey
King is not on the final list."
The International Olympic Committee approved the choice of Beijing's
organizing committee in August. The date of official mascot announcement has
been postponed for three times.
The officials deciding the result and the authorized distributor of the
mascot have signed confidentiality agreements.
It seems that the Beijing's organizing committee cares less about the
specific animal than local governments and the public. Jiang Xiaoyu, executive
vice-president of the organizing committee, revealed the number of mascots could
be "as many as a team's starters in a basketball game".
Han Meilin, head of a designing group of the Beijing's mascot, on Tuesday
estimated there would be five.
"Five" matches up with the five rings of the Olympic symbol and the five
elements (metal, wood, water, fire and earth) believed by ancient Chinese to
explain the origin of the world.
The Olympic mascots have stimulated debate on the Internet.
"We all need to wait for the final result tonight," an official of Beijing's
committee told Xinhua on Friday.