The story behind the plush pandas Olympians obtain

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As Olympic medalists ascend the podiums, followers would possibly anticipate them to be given their gold, silver or bronze. However this yr, winners are first given stuffed pandas. (Don’t fear — the athletes get their medals at a later ceremony.)

The stuffed animal is a small model of the 2022 Beijing Olympics mascot, Bing Dwen Dwen, which is supposed to carry “pleasure to those that take part in and watch the Olympic Winter Video games,” in keeping with the Worldwide Olympic Committee.

The title Bing means “ice” in Chinese language, and it symbolizes purity and power.

Gold medalist Chloe Kim of Workforce USA poses on the rostrum throughout the venue ceremony after the snowboard ladies’s halfpipe remaining run throughout the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Video games in Zhangjiakou, China, on Thursday.Ben Stanstall / AFP – Getty Photos

The stuffed animal is encased in a transparent plastic shell, which is alleged to characterize ice. The center on Bing Dwen Dwen’s left palm signifies China’s hospitality.

Bing Dwen Dwen grew to become immediately fashionable amongst followers. Folks in China camped out in a single day on the Olympics flagship retailer in Beijing, the place strains stretched down the block, to purchase their very own model of the mascot. It rapidly offered out.

Silver medalists Karen Chen and Nathan Chen after the staff occasion within the determine skating competitors on the 2022 Winter Olympics on Monday in Beijing.David J. Phillip / AP

One fan even shaved Bing Dwen Dwen into the hair on the again of his head, in keeping with Reuters.

The stuffed animal isn’t a completely new custom. Olympians have lengthy acquired some sort of memento alongside their medals. Till lately, it was a bouquet of flowers. 

On the Rio Summer season Olympics in 2016, medalists got a small sculpture of the Video games’ brand, which doubled as a medal-holder. 

Winners in Pyeongchang had been seen holding a white tiger stuffed animal named Soohorang, the 2018 Olympics mascot. Medalists got a doll of Soohorang carrying a gold, silver or bronze hat and a paper flower known as an uhsahwa.

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