In the second installment of our look back at the mascots of the Olympic Games, we’re making the 1990s a separate decade all of their own, as mascots took a turn for the abstract and included more pairings (and trios!) than ever before. Come along with us for a look at 10 years worth of children, owls, and even magical star imps that helped celebrate the Winter and Summer Olympics!
Cobi (1992 Summer Olympics, Barcelona)
Created by Javier Mariscal, Cobi was a Pyrenean mountain dog, humanized in a “Cubist” style with a large wardrobe. His name was an illusion to the abbrevation of the Barcelona ‘92 Olympic Organising Committee, COOB ‘92, and was chosen because it was easy to pronounce in several languages. Cobi was initially met with mixed reactions from the public upon his debut, but fans warmed up to him and by the time the 1992 Summer Olympics began, he was a huge success.
Magique (1992 Winter Olympics, Albertville)
Magique, a snow imp in the shape of a star and a cube, marked the first non-animal mascot since Schneemann’s debut at the Innsbruck 1976 Games. His star shape symbolized imagination and dreams and his colors hailed from the French flag. French for “magic,” his name was chosen by creator Philippe Mairesse who found the word “magique” in his brief from the Organising Committee several times. Magique, and his name, were an instant hit with fans at the 1992 Winter Olympics.
Haakon and Kristin (1994 Winter Olympics, Lillehammer)
Historic for being the first human mascots, Haakon and Kristinwere created by Kari and Werner Grossman, based on an idea by Javier Ramirez Campuzano. While their names were a reference to Håkon IV Håkonson, King of Norway from 1217 to 1263, and Princess Kristin, his aunt, Haakon and Kristin were entirely modern children: happy and expressing the same interests as youthful people. To play the role of the “living mascots” in the 1994 Winter Olympics, eight pairs of Norwegian children were selected from various regions throughout the country from over 10,000 candidates.
Izzy (1996 Summer Olympics, Atlanta)
Is Izzy a person, an animal, an object, or simply none of the above? In the case of Izzy (originally called “Whatizit”) the answer is that he was pure abstraction. Created by John Ryan from DESIGNefx, Izzy’s initial mixed reception upon his first appearance at the Closing Ceremony of the 1992 Games in Barcelona meant it was time for a mascot makeover. Izzy was given a mouth, a nose, stars in his eyes, and muscular legs on his blue body, with the five Olympic rings placed on various parts of his body. The new and improved Izzy, wearing his signature sneakers, was received in much better spirits by fans at the 1996 Summer Olympics.
Sukki, Nokki, Lekki, and Tsukki (1998 Winter Olympics, Nagano)
The first quartet of mascots presented during the Games, Sukki, Nokki, Lekki and Tsukki were four snowy owls that provided a subtle nod as a foursome to the four years that make up an Olympiad. Created by Landor Associates (the same agency that designed the torch for the 1996 Atlanta Games), they represented fire (Sukki), air (Nokki), earth (Lekki), and water (Tsukki). The choice of owls symbolized both Greek mythology, where owls are associated with the goddess of wisdom, Athena and for the animal itself known throughout the world for having the “wisdom of the woods.”