Rinse your paint brushes, sharpen your pencils, stock up on sketchpads because this is BIG – the organizers of Tokyo Olympics have announced a design competition for the Olympic mascot of 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The competition is open to both Japanese residents and foreigners, and lures participants by promising not just global fame and recognition, but also some sweet cash money, i.e. a ¥1 million ($8,975) prize for the winner and ¥100,000 ($896) handouts for the finalists.
Mascots have been representing the Olympics since 1968 Winter Games in Grenoble, France – that time it was Schuss, a stylized skier. With 25 different mascots already in place, the Tokyo 2020 Olympics Organizing Committee is looking for something original that would really reflect Japan’s cultural heritage.
"We are praying for the birth of a mascot that will be loved and praised by the world."
Applicants (who must be 18 or older, or apply with a guarantor) have to submit their designs along with written descriptions of their characters. The mascot selection panel will choose 3-4 finalists who will then be judged by the world's most 'brutal' jury – elementary school students!
As Japan Times points out, there are 20,000 schools with 270,000 classes nationwide, and every single school kid will have a say in the process. It's the first time in history an Olympic mascot is chosen this way. According to Olympic minister Tamayo Marukawa:
"The Olympic mascot, which welcomes athletes and visitors from around the world, has a symbolic role. It is a great opportunity for all Japanese children to learn about cohesive society and the principles of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, which celebrate peace."
The name of the mascot will not be left to amateurs, however. Organizers say it will be decided based on feedback from 'creative professionals.' The window to submit your designs is not a big one – a dedicated section on the official Tokyo 2020 website will be open August 1–14.
Tokyo Olympics already gauged everyone's interest back in January when the news broke that Dragon Ball Z's Goku will be the official ambassador for the Games. We can't wait to see what comes out of this competition!