Tokyo returns with Summer Games with something new to prove

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The blue creature, the mascot for the Olympic Games, has "an old-fashioned charm that reflects tradition and also has a high-tech, cutting edge vibe".

When it came time for the Japanese Olympic Committee to reveal their mascots for the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics and Paralympics, there was no surprise that the characters would be inspired from a field considered national pride: anime.

"I thought that something combining futuristic and traditional elements would perfectly fit the image of Japan and Tokyo", he said. It has a strong sense of justice and is very athletic, according to its description.

The losing pairs were a lucky cat and a fox of Design B and Design C's glum fox and raccoon. Elementary school students cast their votes between December 11 and February 22. Each class could cast a single vote in favor of one of the three competing entries. The winning mascots were announced during a ceremony attended by hundreds of students.

Organizers unveiled the winning designs at a school in Tokyo on Wednesday.

The still-to-be-named mascots enjoyed support of 109,401 kids, besting rivals with 61,423 votes and 35,291 votes, respectively. Meanwhile, the Paralympic mascot wears a pink and white chequered pattern, "has a dignified inner strength and a kind heart that loves nature".

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While mascots help in promotion and popularizing events, Japan takes the craze to another level.

Taniguchi will be awarded ¥1 million and a ticket to the opening ceremonies of both the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics.

The selection process involving schoolchildren was introduced to get students enthusiastic about the games while also ensuring transparency.

A crowd of supporters was on hand at Narita Airport east of Tokyo to greet the athletes and officials. Designers of other two shortlisted entries will receive ¥100,000 each.

The Rugby World Cup, which takes place in Japan next year, has already unveiled a pair of pot-bellied lions as its mascots.

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