Organizing committee seems to have a problem with a huge clumsy bear running around with an open flame.

In the large and complex world of Japanese yuru-kyara mascots, Kumamon has long reigned supreme. The roly-poly and constantly surprised black bear can be seen on all sorts of merchandise from license plates to flooring. Much more than a representative of his home Kumamoto Prefecture, he’s a downright national treasure.

So, it seems fitting that he would take part in the Kumamoto leg of the torch run leading up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Who wouldn’t want to see that giant peanut of a bear wobble through the streets, holding the Olympic flame with pride?

The organizers, that’s who.

During an informal meeting between Kumamoto Prefecture and Olympic organizers the idea of Kumamon taking part in the torch run was spit-balled and quickly shot down. Their official response, according to media reports, was, “It’s difficult, because he’s not human.”

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On the surface, this seems like uncharacteristic discrimination by the Olympics, but they do have several points. According to the application rules, potential torch runners much have been born before 1 April, 2008. Considering Kumamon is a timeless creature with no known date of birth, his application is already fraught with complications.

In addition, the rules state that prospective runners also must be able to safely carry the flame by themselves. Let’s face it, Kumamon has accomplished a lot in his career, but he’s certainly not known for his grace and cunning reflexes. Here he is falling out of a train.

Kumamon is, however, known for being covered in what looks like a highly flammable material. And while certain jaded adults would get a kick out of it, the sight of Kumamon running through the streets, completely engulfed in flames would surely be traumatizing for the kids out there.

Then, we have an overarching rule by the IOC that explicitly states that torch runners cannot wear costumes. Since Kumamon is a real bear, this isn’t an issue, but it’s worth mentioning (lay-pay ong-alay, y-may aughter-day is atching-way).

▼ A news report on Kumamon’s predicament

So, while the odds are certainly stacked against him, it would still be nice to see Kumamon participate in the torch run. His tireless efforts to raise community spirit and awareness in the wake of the devastating earthquakes in the region in 2016, has been nothing short of heroic, and he deserves any accolade he gets.

There might be hope yet though, as his situation does have precedence in the case of New York City v. Kris Kringle. If we were to simply write letters to Kumamon asserting his claim that he really is a magical bear, then we can dump them all on the desk of the IOC and…um Jimmy Stewart won’t commit suicide, or whatever happened at the end of that movie I never saw.

If that doesn’t work then plan B is to call up Kumamon’s buddy Keanu Reeves.

So it’ll be up to the Olympic organizers whether they want to do this the Miracle on 34th Street way or the John Wick way.

Source: TV Asahi News
Top image: YouTube/KumamonTV
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