Mascot renamed Fuwa in English

By Cruz Fang (
Updated: 2006-10-17 06:08

The name "Friendlies" has been abandoned as the organization committee for the 2008 Beijing Olympics silently changed the English name of the Games' five mascot dolls last week.

fuwa, beijing olympics, 2008 beijing The organization committee decided to adopt the name "Fuwa", which is a literal, pinyin translation of its Chinese name and is more frequently used in China.

However, the organization committee played down the name change, replacing all Friendlies to Fuwa on its official site, but without releasing a formal announcement to inform the public of the switch.

Sources within the organization committee said they received an internal notice about the change last week but don't want to amplify it for fear of affecting the sales of Olympic commodities.

Li Yanjun, a Legal Affairs Department official, told the that "they have finished all the legal processes needed for the change but don't think there's a need to emphasis it."

Li also said the decision was made considering a variety of reasons but did not want to comment on them.

"You may know about the background and many unfavorable comments concerning the mascots' former name across the web, but I won't comment on them," Li said. "I'm not in the position to make it clear if the change was prompted by this."

A report published last week on China Radio International (CRI) revealed the name change and listed the reasons why the Friendlies name should be changed.

"Firstly, Friendly is somewhat an ambiguous name, which could refer both to friendly people and friendly matches,"a Dr. Li from Lanzhou University was quoted as saying on the site. "Secondly, the term Friendlies has a similar pronunciation to 'friendless' and thirdly, the spelling of Friendlies could be split as 'friend lies'."

Laura Fitch, a Canadian who works in China as news editor, welcomed the change, saying the name Friendlies sounds a "a little bit childish" and "doesn't really have a meaning."