These six mascots take their inspiration from sakura cherry blossoms, shrines, and Japanese fairy tales.

With the 2020 Tokyo Olympics now less than a thousand days away, there’s still a lot of preparation to be done, and one of the most important parts of the jigsaw that’s currently being pieced together is the election of the official mascot for the Games.

This morning, the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Organising Committee officially unveiled the three mascot finalists at an event held at an elementary school in Shibuya. Chosen by 15 committee members from a total of 2,042 applications, received from amateur and professional designers around the country, the three individual pairings contain one candidate each for the Olympics and the Paralympics.

▼ Olympics mascots on top row, Paralympics mascots below.

Elementary school students will begin voting for their favourite mascot pairing from 11 December, with the results revealed on 28 February next year. To help aid them in their selections, the Committee has also released official videos, in both Japanese and English, introducing the characteristics of each mascot and the inspiration behind their creation.

Take a look at the mascot introductions below:

The first candidates, known as the “A” pairing, feature a chequerboard design that “embodies both old tradition and new innovation“. The pink Paralympic mascot on the right is said to have a “cherry tactile sense“, drawn from its connection to sakura cherry blossoms.

In the “B pairing”, we have a half lucky beckoning cat and half inari fox character who was “born from the fire and soil that warm Japan“. On the right is the Paralympic mascot, who was “born from the wind and sky that bring different seasons to Japan” and modelled on the guardian dog figures often seen at Japanese shrines.

The final pair in the running to be chosen as the official Games mascots is the “C pairing”, with “the fox that jumped out from Japanese fairy tales” and the shape-shifting raccoon that transforms itself using the leaf on its head.

So which pairing would you like to see become the official mascots for the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics? Our vote is for the adorable B pairing, but let us know what you think in the comments section below!

Source: The Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games via Mainichi Shimbun
Images: YouTube/Tokyo 2020