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Mascots. They make an appearance at every American sporting event to infuse the crowd with team spirit and pride. So it only makes sense that the world’s largest sporting event — the Olympic Games — has them, too.
The mascot for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London is Wenlock, a curious creature that can be best described as a one-eyed drop of steel. But in years past, many host cities opted for more fun and cuddly critters — like these eight past Olympic mascots.
Eileen Langsley Olympic Images / Alamy
As the first official mascot of the Olympic Games, Waldi was modeled after a longhaired breed of Dachshund that was popular in Bavaria at the time and represented key characteristics required for athletes — resistance, tenacity and agility.
The beaver is one of the national symbols of Canada — and he's known for his strong work ethic. In the Anishinaabe Indian tribe’s language, Amik means beaver, so the mascot’s name is actually Beaver the Beaver.
Flickr via Numerius
Deciding on the mascot for these games was easy — the bear was the national symbol of the Soviet Union. But creating him was a bit more difficult: It took renowned children's book illustrator Victor Chizhikov six months and 100 drawings to come up with the furry Mikhail Potapych Toptygin, who's affectionately known as Misha.
Not to be confused with the Muppets character of the same name, this bald eagle was created by Disney animator Bob Moore and paid homage to the U.S. national symbol of freedom.
Flickr via WBUR
Commonly found in Korean legends, these cuddly mascots were an attempt to portray the softer side of the sometimes-ferocious cats. Although they were both meant to represent the Olympics, the male cub, Hodori, ended up capturing the spotlight, and poor Hosuni was rarely spotted.
Flickr via Stella Dauer
Designed by local cartoonist Javier Mariscal, Cobi wasn’t immediately popular — thanks to his surreal looks. But by the end of the games, he had won over the crowd and went on to star in a popular Spanish TV show.
For the millennium games, one mascot just wasn’t enough. The three playful critters chosen by the 2000 Sydney Games organizing committee — representing earth, air and water — are commonly found in the wilds of Australia.
Flickr via Jubilo Haku
This white dove unofficially represented the slogan of the 1968 Olympics, "Games of the Peace.” Some believe that the symbol was created in response to the Tlatelolco Massacre, when 44 students died in Mexico City just 10 days before the games.
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