Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Miga, a sea bear who lives in the ocean with her family pod near Tofino, and Quatchi, a young sasquatch, represent the Olympics, while Sumi represents the Paralympics that follow afterward.
A sea bear is a First Nations creature, part killer whale, part Kermode spirit bear. While illustrated as being taller than the other characters, the mascot costume of Quatchi is the same height as the other two characters.
The third mascot, Sumi, an animal-guardian spirit, is a Thunderbird that wears the hat of an orca. Sumi will be the mascot of the Paralympics.
In 2004, the Times Colonist suggested a marmot might be a good mascot, except for their winter hibernation. The organizers still chose one, named Mukmuk, as their “virtual only” counterpart.
After the Olympic logo design was leaked the day before the 2005 announcement, organizers were extremely tight lipped until today’s news conference at a Surrey school. They apparently didn’t do any development on the characters on internet-enabled computers, to ensure the images or information wouldn’t slip out.
The characters were designed by the Vancouver and Los Angeles-based Meomi Design. Their characters have been used as part of iGoogle, a customizable homepage option from Google, as well as Electronic Arts, Girls Inc., Time Out Magazine, Cyworld, Nick Jr., Bang-on Clothing, and CBC4Kids.
The Vancouver organizers have a CDN$46-million merchandising program; previous Olympics have made as much as $100 million from mascot-related products.
René Fasel, Chairman of the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) Coordination Commission commented that “The IOC welcomes these imaginative new additions to the Olympic Family as they take their place on the world stage today – a symbol of the Games and of Canada. We know that when Olympians, Paralympians and visitors from around the globe arrive in British Columbia at Games time, they will fall under the spell of these captivating characters.”
The characters first appearance will be at a Bay store in the Lower Mainland; HBC is a major sponsor of the Games. They will then make their way to schools, take a break through the Christmas season, and fly to Ottawa for the Winterlude festival.