Tokyo 2020: Bug-eyed Olympic mascot hopefuls unveiled

The Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games has picked the candidates from 2,042 sets of designs from the public. With AP Photos.Organizers of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics on Wednesday unveiled three sets of designs for the Games' mascots.

Japan has hosted the Olympic Games a total of three times, but only the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics and Paralympics adopted mascots, making this the first time Japan will be choosing Summer Games mascots.

Proposal A is a pair of characters with an iichimatsu moyo checkered pattern.

Elementary school classrooms from 21,000 schools across Japan will cast ballots from December 11 to February 22 to decide on the final design.

The second set features an Olympic character based on Japan's lucky cat and inari fox - which also symbolizes luck - and a Paralympic character resembling a guardian dog often seen at shinto shrines.

As for Candidate C, the Olympic mascot features a fox, while the Paralympic mascot is inspired by a raccoon dog. "We chose to encourage children to participate in the preparations for the Tokyo 2020 Games by having them select the mascots, as our children represent a future that Tokyo 2020 wants to embody through the Games".

TV personality Shoko Nakagawa, another member of the screening committee, called the student vote "historic" given that mascots were not used in 1964.

Schools must register to participate, and the organizers said that 4,150 schools were registered as of Thursday at noon.

The three finalists were selected from among 2,042 entries submitted by the public, with the victor to be announced on February 28.

After being named by experts, the mascots will be officially announced from July to August.

Vanessa Coleman