Bing Dwen Dwen, the panda mascot brings fun to Beijing 2022
-- Bing Dwen Dwen has added some extra cheer into the furious medal rivalry at the 2022 Winter Olympics, with many willing to queue for hours inside as well as outside of the "closed loop" to snap up the panda mascot.
-- Apart from Beijing 2022, pandas have already featured as mascots for big sports events including the Asian Games in 1990 and the Summer Olympics in 2008.
-- Bing Dwen Dwen is expected to become a shared memory of the whole world.
by sportswriters He Leijing and Gao Shang
BEIJING -- The big and bewitching race is on -- to get a Bing Dwen Dwen, the panda mascot for the Beijing Winter Olympics, and it adds some extra chic and cheers into the furious medal rivalry.
Clad in a full-body spacesuit-like icy shell, Bing Dwen Dwen has become a smash hit, especially after the Games got underway on February 4.
From stands to signs and posters, the cute panda is ubiquitous at the Olympic facilities, and has been well received among international participants, even being awarded to medalists who hold one up on the podium, eliciting huge ovations from spectators.
People are willing to queue for hours to snap up the winter sports-equipped mascot, and trend topics related to the round-bodied panda have generated over 2.5 billion views on China's Twitter-like social platform Weibo, with enamored fans expressing their love and asking where they could buy the chubby bear.
People queue along Wangfujing Street to purchase Bing Dwen Dwen toys in Beijing, Feb. 12, 2022. [Xinhua/Chen Zhonghao]
The fever naturally led to a shortage of Bing Dwen Dwen figurines, and the Beijing 2022 organizing committee (BOCOG) has promised to boost supply as factories across China are working in full swing to meet surging demand.
But here is an intriguing question - why there is a craze for Bing Dwen Dwen, as pandas have already featured as mascots for big sports events in China, including the Asian Games in 1990 and the Beijing Summer Olympics in 2008?
Athletes attending the Games have one more reason to win a medal, that is, to earn a Bing Dwen Dwen, as many have taken to social media to show off their prize.
American snowboarder Maddie Mastro published a short video on TikTok featuring the mascot after entering the Olympic Village, and now she has received more than eight million views, with followers hailing "cute" through comments.
This photo shows Bing Dwen Dwen figurines ready to be awarded to winning athletes of the women's snowboard slopestyle final during the flower ceremony at the Genting Snow Park in Zhangjiakou, north China's Hebei Province. [Xinhua/Xue Yubin]
And fans who failed to get their hands on the panda have begun making their own souvenirs to show their passion for the Games. Many have turned to online posts showing Bing Dwen Dwens made out of clay and snow.
"The Olympic mascot serves as an ambassador for winter sports, bringing joy to those who participate in and watch the Olympic Winter Games," the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said on its website.
"Bing Dwen Dwen is so cuddly and you really want to give him a cuddle," said Lou Side, a technician with Olympic Broadcasting Services who is eager to get a panda figurine but has found it difficult because of the long queues.
"He is a funny character. The panda-inspired image resonates with a lot of fans," said American journalist Dan Orlowitz, echoing many overseas media staff that the panda can represent China.
Adorable giant pandas have long been beloved overseas, but compared with Jingjing, the panda mascot for the 2008 Summer Olympics, Bing Dwen Dwen brings more of a sense of science and technology.
A Bing Dwen Dwen toy placed on its design drafts is pictured on Feb. 9, 2022. [Xinhua/Liu Dawei]
According to BOCOG, Bing Dwen Dwen's clear "shell" resembles an astronaut suit, constituting "a tribute to embracing new technologies for a future with infinite possibilities." The bright colors of the halo around its face are a representation of the latest advanced technologies of the ice and snow sport tracks at the Games.
"I think it's the astronaut suit that really makes it work," said Trent Nelson, an American photographer, explaining the fever pitch. "And with China's recent space program success, it just goes hand in hand."
Cao Xue, head of the mascot design team, said that what makes Bing Dwen Dwen different from previous panda mascots is the icy shell which is inspired by sugar-coated hawthorns, a traditional Chinese snack that is popular in northern China, a region that sees more cold days and winter sports activities.
"Bing Dwen Dwen is a design we made for the world and the future," Cao added.
It is "lively, funny, witty, and of course full of positive energy," said Christophe Dubi, Olympic Games Executive Director of the IOC. "Bing Dwen Dwen has to be part of my collection, but (also) yours, and all the kids across the globe."
BEYOND THE GAMES
As a good gesture, a licensed store inside the closed-loop of the Olympics released the latest notice, reminding those international participants that if they need to leave China early, they can have the priority to buy the panda toy as the merchandise is being replenished.
Bing Dwen Dwen has a red heart on the left palm, and the IOC said, it symbolizes China's hospitality towards athletes and spectators at the Winter Olympics.
Medalists holding Bing Dwen Dwen figurines celebrate during the awards ceremony of the cross-country skiing men's 4x10 km relay at the National Cross-Country Skiing Centre in Zhangjiakou, north China's Hebei Province, Feb. 13, 2022. [Xinhua/Mu Yu]
Xu Jicheng, head of BOCOG's media operations department, said that Panpan, the mascot for the 1990 Asian Games, is a running panda holding a medal.
"Panpan shows how much we valued the importance of medals at that time, but now Bing Dwen Dwen, with the heart pattern on the palm, tells a different story," Xu elaborated.
"It's all about peace and love and the warm welcome from the host country to friends around the world," said Liu Pingyun, chief executive of the design team of Bing Dwen Dwen.
IOC official Betty Aldini was surprised to receive a hand-painted version of Bing Dwen Dwen from a Chinese volunteer at the Olympic Village, after she found the mascot panda was sold out at the licensed store.
Aldini was so touched by the heartwarming gift and volunteer services that she wrote in a memo: "Thank you for your kind help and for welcoming us to China! We appreciate your job!"
"The mascot incorporates the best elements and characteristics of China and the Chinese people," said IOC President Thomas Bach when the mascot was unveiled in 2019.
Workers package Bing Dwen Dwen toys at a factory in Qidong City, in east China's Jiangsu Province, Feb. 8, 2022. [Photo by Xu Congjun/Xinhua]
Liu revealed that the miniature stuffed mascot gifts for medalists are customized and adorned by a wreath woven of pine, bamboo and plum, representing tenacity, perseverance and vitality in Chinese culture.
"And given that space exploration is the common pursuit of mankind, the astronaut-like image shows a shared future for mankind," Liu said.
"The cute, creative and confident mascot will become a shared memory of the whole world," said Jin Yuanpu, a professor at Renmin University of China.
"It conveys a friendly signal of solidarity and mutual assistance in terms of the pandemic, and demonstrates China's national character of peace and hospitality," he added.