Top 10 Worst Olympic Mascots

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This list was first published in 2008. Seems a good time to revisit it.

A good Mascot is a symbol of the spirit of the Olympics in general; while, at the same time, teaching the world something about the country where the event is taking place. I also feel that mascots should exude a positive and focused energy and enthusiasm for the games as well as the city, country and culture they represent.

10. MukMuk (2010, Vancouver Winter Games)

This character is supposed to be a Vancouver Island Marmot but it would be more accurate to describe him as an underdog. He is the ‘designated sidekick’ of the three official mascots for the Winter Games: Quatchi, Miga and Sumi. It’s like the real mascots are saying, “Okay MukMuk you can hang out with us but you’re not really one of us.” And pathetic little MukMuk says, “Gee, thanks guys! Woo hoo!”.

While the official mascots are out in the real world promoting the Olympics (okay, they are really just humans in costume) MukMuk the wannabe just exists on the internet and is not even important enough to include on the souvenir merchandise. Poor little guy.

You can read more about little MukMuk’s plight.

9. Hosuni (1988, Seoul Summer Games)

Who? Exactly. The Seoul Games actually had two mascots, Hodori and Hosuni, but for some reason Hodori was way more popular. When you look at a picture of them, it’s hard to see why since they look EXACTLY THE SAME. Being the unpopular one is bad enough, but how about being completely erased from everyone’s memory? If you look up information about mascots on the Official Website of the Beijing Olympic Games, Hosuni isn’t even mentioned. It’s like she never even existed.

8. Cobi (1992, Barcelona Summer Games)

I have to admit this character is really, really cute. But in what stretch of the imagination does a dog wearing a business suit symbolize the Olympics? Have they added ‘commuting’ to the Olympic events? Or possibly ‘handshaking’ or ‘powerpoint presenting’? I think not.

7. Hidy & Howdy (1988, Calgary Winter Games)

Okay we get it,  Calgary’s nickname is Cowtown and they have a big rodeo every year (the Calgary Stampede) so the cowboy/cowgirl theme makes sense. But ‘Hidy’ and ‘Howdy’? Why not just call them ‘Hick’ and ‘Hillbilly’? To make things worse, they were touted as ‘inseparable brother and sister polar bears’. Kind of cute or just creepy in that whole Angelina Jolie and her brother kind of way?

6. Waldi (1972, Munich Summer Games)

When I picture dogs competing in the various Olympic Summer Events (and I do this all the time, of course) I see a greyhound jumping hurdles, a Labrador retriever swimming and a whippet running around a track. But I never, ever, picture a short-legged, long-haired dachshund named Waldi. And, for goodness sake – it’s the Summer Olympics, Waldi, you can take off the sweater!

Waldi would have appeared closer to the number one position but he is the very first Olympic mascot ever so I’ve decided to ‘throw Munich a bone’.

5. Rocky (1980, Lake Placid Winter Games)

The mascot for the Lake Placid Winter Games was going to be a real live raccoon named Rocky but unfortunately he passed away before the games even began. A dead raccoon is not very inspiring or cute. In fact, it’s right up there with roadkill. I looked all over the web and could not find out how Rocky died. The most obvious suspect would be Roni, the cartoon raccoon who replaced him, but apparently his neighbor Wiley Coyote backed up his alibi. Rest in peace Rocky.


4. Athena and Phevos (2004, Athens Summer Games)

Otherwise known as Two Penises Wearing Sweaters or Two **** Wearing Dickies…

3. Olly, Syd and Millie (2000, Sydney Summer Games)

These forgettable mascots were completely upstaged by the unofficial mascot of the Sydney Summer Games, Fatso the Fat-Arsed Wombat. Fatso even appeared on the winners’ podium with several gold medalists. Meanwhile, poor Olly, Syd and Millie were being referred to as “Syd, Ollie and Dickhead” by the popular Australian comic duo Roy and HG. The Olympic Committee tried to discourage Fatso’s popularity at first but he became so popular that he ended up on a commemorative stamp and there is a statue of him outside the Sydney Olympic stadium.

2. Izzy (1996, Atlanta Summer Games)

Arguably the least successful mascot of all and evidently controlled by the most indecisive people in the world. First of all, not even the creators seem to know what he is supposed to be: isn’t Izzy short for ‘Whatizit’ or ‘Whatizhee’? And no one seemed to be able to settle on what he should look like either because his nose, size and eyes changed over time.
An article on the BBC news website quotes Simpsons creator Matt Groenig as describing Izzy as “a bad marriage of the Pillsbury doughboy and the ugliest California Raisin”. It then goes on to say that the US press described “as anything from a ‘blue slug’ to a ‘sperm in sneakers’. Source: BBC News

As a parting shot, perhaps I still have Athena and Phevos on my mind, but I have to agree Izzy does kind of look like a big blue sperm?

1. The Fuwa (2008, Beijing)

I am rating the Fuwa the worst mascot because, while others have been unpopular, confusing or silly, these bad luck dolls of Beijing are becoming downright ominous. Fuwa translates to the ‘good-luck dolls’ but you be the judge. First, the famous Chinese artist, Han Meilin, had two heart attacks while he was designing them. And now, each of the five characters that make up the Fuwa have been linked to events which have led to the superstitious term ‘the Curse of the Fuwa’. Nini (swallow/kite/locust figure) is linked to the Weifang T195 (“kite city”) train accident in April 2008 and the locust infestation in Inner Mongolia in June 2008. Yingying (the Tibetan antelope) is an obvious choice for association with the Tibetan unrest. Huanhuan, representing the Olympic flame, is being linked to the torch relay protests. Also, the Sichuan area, which suffered a catastrophic earthquake on May 12, 2008 is well known for its pandas and the fourth mascot, Jing Jing, is a panda character. The fifth and final Fuwa mascot is Beibeig, a fish who is representing the element water in the group. He is being associated to the floods in South China as well as an algal bloom in the Olympic sailing course.

According to Wikipedia, some people are now calling the characters “Wuwa” (witch dolls) instead of Fuwa and “online criticism of the dolls has frequently been censored”.

Personally, I think they are cute but I wonder how souvenir sales are doing? Are people reluctant to bring the bad mojo of these Fuwa/Wuwa into their homes?

Favorite Unofficial Mascots

Fatso the Fat-Arsed Wombat is probably the most famous unofficial mascot but he’s not the first. That distinction goes to Schuss the unofficial mascot of the 1968 Grenoble Olympic games. The tradition continues with Itchy the Bedbug, Creepy the Cockroach and Chewy the Rat, unofficial mascots for the Vancouver 2010 Olympics who appeared at the “Poverty Olympics” in 2008 to raise awareness for the poor and homeless.


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85 Comments

  1. MukMuk appears to have potential. I honestly like the cut of his gib better than the others. Although, what is the real purpose of the Olympic mascots? Don't we want the Olympic games to be regal and a prestigious event? I don't know how the mascots contribute to this. Seems like they are there to make money in sales to children rather than promote the Olympic Spirit of the host city.

  2. Fuwa is by far the best Mascot yet! It not only represent the balance of human and nature(four types of animal near extinction), but also demonstrating the important message send by the Chinese to the world "Beijing welcomes you." Beibei,Jingjing,Yingying,Huanhuan,Nini connecting together forming a heart-warming phrase . According to the opinion of above , saying the superstitious of china . It self is showing superstitious by pointing out pass event . If we all goes around picking bones from a egg , there are many other event to point out. Involving NATURAL DIASTER which happen in different places around the world. We should always look into the future and forget about the past. Look at the success the Fuwa brought for 2008 Olympic . Fantastic opening great ending , just look at the amount of medals everyone achieve

  3. That's right, the mascots are a source of revenue for the Olympics. Why else would Beijing have 5 mascots and Vancouver 3? The Olympics are a for-profit outfit. I'm the photographer of the shot you've linked to the Poverty Olympics Mascots in Vancouver.

    In response to the comment left by Unknow, forget about the past and look to the future? One world, one nightmare!

  4. Don't judge the art of others feeling your some kind of a big shot… These mascots represent their country and their pride, maybe earns money but the 5 dolls represent 5 great elements of reality.. As far of Olympics is concern, Beijing 2008 rules.

  5. I'll have to agree that the Fuwa Mascots are creepy, and are not really popular among the Chinese ppl here. They say that theyre the devils..and bad luck dolls

  6. The Blackbird on

    Hi Anonymous. Beijing 2008 rules? I guess you aren't one of the 1.5 million Chinese displaced from their homes in the lead up to the Games, or a Tibetan monk, or a Falun Gong believer. Beijing 2008 rules? No way! Beijing 2008 sucks the big one! Ha ha ha!!!

    I'm going to buy a stuffed Quatchi, one of the Vancouver 2010 mascots. He has a dream of one day being a hockey goalie. This is part of his official bio. Then I'll set up Quatchi in the hockey net in the gymnasium where I work and a long line of those hard red plastic ball hockey balls and work on my slapshot.

    Oh, and another thing Anonymous, ha ha ha!!!

  7. Beijing Mascots are wicked. I really like it. It gives alot of welcoming message for everyone. I think they are the best Mascots so far designed in Olympics. Just because Chinese Government is doing what is best for its future doesn't mean we need to put them into spotlight like this!.

    I mean we think Chinese Government is cruel, which they are but then again who is not cruel. Look at Israel, built a really big Prison for Palastanians. And yet the world is so quite about it as if these people don't exist.

    Hidden agendas are on all governments plate but what leads to wrongfulness, mischief is by doing wrong at the beginning.

    Sorry i went way off the topic in this area but i had to raise it!

  8. That is a wonderful justification. Makes me feel so happy and so much better about China. If everyone is cruel, then cruelty must be okay! Yippie! Let's all party in this violent and cruel world and celebrate with sports and games and who cares who gets hurt or killed in the process. Cruelty can be fun!!! And the mascots are proof! Yay! Yippie! Three cheers for cruelty! Let's not try to change a thing. Let's allow the world to become more cruel because that way the world will be even more fun and we will have even more mascots to celebrate with. What a beautiful world!

    You are so right, Baki. I like the world you live in, the one without hope and love, where cruelty is king. It's so much fun!

    • The most peaceful place is USA because it can invade the other countries as it want. God bless Iraq, Yugoslavia and Afghan T.T

  9. Hi. I'll have to be a defender of Cobi's… he's actually wearing the traditional suit for opening events on the Olympics. In fact, if the Spanish wanted their mascot to look like a businessman or a lawyer, it wouldn't be a dog… a pig or a snake maybe.

    Allow to say Cobi's so awesome, he'd even had his own TV cartoon back in the 90's (might have been part of many of today's twenty-ers pre-adolescence).

    Regards, everybody!

    • I didn't realize that about Cobi's costume and have to admit it gives him a bit more credibility. And I hear his suit has got him into some pretty sweet poker games with some other dogs…

    • In fact, the original Cobi mascot does not have any clothes on (this doesn’t mean he’s naked, remember he’s a dog). On his belly, there’s the logo of Barcelona’92. Besides, several toy/souvenir figures were produced -like the one on the pic, which is a judge version of Cobi. There are others in which he’s dressed up as a boxer, etc.
      I have a figure with the original Cobi (no clothes and the logo) with suction cups.
      Cobi has proven to be some of the best-recalled Olympic mascots!!!

      Oh! I’d include the 3 mascots of Sochi 2014….none has any relationship with the other 2.

    • COBI is always referred as one of the most successful mascots ever. The International Olympic Committee have considered Cobi as the most profitable mascot.

      As other readers said, COBI, a Catalan sheepdog in Cubist style, worn multiple attires representing the many sides of the Olympic movement.

      Having said that, I would apreciate a correction as COBI has been misunderstood in this Worst Olympic Mascot list.

  10. "Nini (swallow/kite/locust figure) is linked to the Weifang T195 (“kite city”) train accident in April 2008 and the locust infestation in Inner Mongolia in June 2008."

    The train accident was not in the kite city Weifang. Make it right, this is not superstitious, rather super-radiculous.

  11. @Liz – Sorry for the error, the Nini/Weifang info came from two sources (The UK Telegraph and The Wall Street Journal) but I see you are correct that is not the location of the accident. Regardless, the Nini still qualify due to the locust infestation. And I think you made a spelling error: the long term for 'super-rad' is super-radical, but I thank you anyways ๐Ÿ˜‰

  12. i heard the beijing mascots mean welcome to biejing wen you put them together

    bei-bei

    jing-jing

    huan-huan

    ying-ying

    ni-ni

    bei-jing-huan-ying-ni= beijing huan ying ni

  13. Why are Ollie/Syd/Millie, Cobi, Howdy/Hidy, Izzy, and Waldi on both the 10 Best and 10 Worst lists? Whoever wrote these articles has about as much imagination as the fools who came up with that horrid little Izzy.

  14. @Josh I can only speak for this list but I will have to go check out the other one: anyone who can come up with reasons why those mascots are among the 10 Best is truly imaginative!

  15. Nothing wrong with OLLY DID and MILLIE at least they look like real animals then those wacky looking creatures from those BEJING olympics

  16. Hey…!!! That's their own OCOG trademark. For me, Both Moscow 1980 Olympic Mascot, Misha Bear & Fuwa, 2008 Summer Olympic Mascot are the CUTE Mascot (yet include Sumi, Miga, Quatchi, & Mukmuk for 2010 Winter Olympics). if London OCOG Releases the Mascot, point it then edit this….

  17. Pogla The Grate on

    In the lead up to the 2000 Olympics, there was a recall on the Millie Dolls. Apparently her breasts were too big, and could cause eye injury… I don't really need say any more, do I?

  18. Have you got a before and after shot of Millie? I'm thinking of entering medicine with the eventual goal of opening a breast augmentation clinic so my interest is strictly professional.