Mascot popularity boosts Olympic spirit in China

The Yomiuri Shimbun
People take photos with the official mascots of the Beijing Winter Olympics and Paralympics in Beijing on Saturday.

BEIJING — Although there was a lack of excitement prior to the Beijing Winter Olympics amid the coronavirus pandemic, enthusiasm grew stronger in China once the Games started, helped by Chinese athletes’ success and the popularity of the official Olympic mascot Bing Dwen Dwen.

On Sunday morning, about 30 people lined up at an official Olympic goods store in Beijing. Bing Dwen Dwen, which looks like a panda, is the major draw.

A female civil servant, 40, came to the shop looking for Bing Dwen Dwen, but on learning the mascot was sold out, bought a towel with the emblem of the Olympics on it instead.

“I wasn’t familiar with winter sports, but I became interested in curling and other sports after watching them in the Games,” she said.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Japanese figure skater Yuzuru Hanyu performs with the official Winter Olympics mascot Bing Dwen Dwen in an exhibition in Beijing on Sunday.

In the figure skating exhibition Sunday, Bing Dwen Dwen appeared in the finale. The mascot fell down on the ice, and Japanese figure skater Yuzuru Hanyu raced over to help it up. The two hugged each other, and fans left lots of comments like “So cute!” on Twitter.