If you're keeping an eye on the 2018 Paralympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea, you might want to know what Bandabi is. The official mascot for the 2018 Paralympic Winter Games was announced in 2016 but it will officially make an appearance in February when the highly anticipated games take off. You're in for a lovable surprise.
According to the 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games website, Bandabi is an adorable dark Asiatic bear. In photos, it's clear that the black bear has a sweet sense of style as it wears a multicolored winter cap on top of its head and its belly proudly reads "PyeongChang 2018." Right below its chin, Bandabi has a half moon on its chest. You'll see why it's there.
Bandabi's symbolic meaning points to strength, courage, and persistence. The cute furry animal originally hails from the Gangwon province of South Korea while its name can be broken up into two parts. According to the website, "banda" derives itself from "bandal" which means crescent or half moon (hence, the half moon on the chest!). The ending suffix of "bi" means festivity. And in this case, the celebration is meant for the popular Olympic Games.
If photos from June 2016 tell anything about Bandabi, it's that people really love the bear. Come February, Bandabi will be visible on interactive platforms for Olympic and Paralympic fans to enjoy.
So far, Bandabi is getting great reviews. According to Paralympic.org, the president of the International Paralympic Committee, Philip Craven, said, "I am delighted to welcome ‘Bandabi’ to the Paralympic Family of mascots. Over the coming months ‘Bandabi’ will represent the spirit of the Pyeongchang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games and help to convey the Paralympic vision and values to millions of people all around the world." In addition to expressing delight at Bandabi, Craven spoke of the cultural significance of such a mascot, Paralympic.org reported.
Paralympic mascots are iconic and essential parts of any Games. Like the Paralympians who will compete at PyeongChang 2018, bears are strong, courageous and determined creatures who make the most of their surroundings. Bears are also seen as friendly and cuddly, and I am excited to see how 'Bandabi' interacts with the public between now and the games.
The best part may be that Bandabi isn't alone. Its friend, Soohorang, will also be making an appearance during the Olympic Games. Just like Bandabi, Soohorang also embodies and represents cultural meaning in South Korea. The mascot is a white tiger (and it's super cute) and its name, Soohorang, is based on two words. "Sooho" means protection whereas "rang" is just a small part of the Korean word, "ho-rang-i," for tiger. In short words, this little tiger will be present during the games to offer good luck to the competing athletes and teams.
The Olympics website explained the charming tiger and said, "In selecting a tiger as mascot, the PyeongChang 2018 Organising Committee chose an animal closely associated with Korean mythology and culture. The tiger has been a familiar figure in Korean folk tales as a symbol of trust, strength and protection."
For some, mascots may seem silly but their cultural significance is actually really important. From 1968 to 2018, the International Olympic Committee has used different mascots for various games in Canada, Brazil, Russia, Germany, and the United States among other countries. At the end of the day, these stinkin' cute animals often bring up the spirit of massive crowds during intense games.
So, there you have it! A tiger and a bear will be your friendly pals during the 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.