History was made on October 2, 2009 when it was announced that the 2016 Olympics would be held in Rio de Janeiro, the first South American city to ever host the games. But as thousands celebrated, something magical was happening. Two icons were born from that “explosion” of universal joy and happiness. Following a three-week public vote with almost 325,000 participants, they were named Vinicius and Tom, the official mascots of the 2016 Summer Olympics.

But who’s who in this pairing, anyway? As sports enthusiasts start their countdown for the games — beginning Friday August 5th, 2016 — I’m going in for an inside look at this year’s Olympic and Paralympic mascots.


Created by Birdo Produções, with design inspiration hailing from pop culture, cartoons, and video games, Vinicius is the official mascot for the 2016 Olympics. His name was chosen in honor of Vinicius des Moraes, the “poet of Bossa Nova” as Vinicius proudly proclaims on his site.

With his lanky, colorful form Vinicius has the superpower of stretching his arms and legs as far as he likes. He is a mixture of all Brazilian animals and their qualities, including the agility of cats, sway of monkeys, and grace of birds. Vinicius lives in a treehouse, with a sense of adventure that has led him to make friends all over the world. But he’s at his happiest when he’s in Brazil, savoring its mixtures of colors, people, accents, climates, and habits.

His mission? Fill the world with happiness and celebrate friendship through sport. Oh, and take a selfie with you. Yes, there’s a “Selfie with the Mascots” app on the Rio 2016 site — Vinicius loves social media! But before we take that selfie, let’s get to know the other half of this dynamic duo.


Earning his name from the “musical maestro” Antônio Carlos “Tom” Jobim, Tom is the official mascot of the 2016 Paralympic games.

While Vinicius hails from various mammals, Tom is a fusion of Brazil’s diverse flora. Tom’s hair is made of tropical foliage while his colors reflect Rio’s landscape and exuberant nature. Using his joyous, determined personality, he is able to transform constantly and expresses himself with the antennas on his head (which also provide directions to visitors and the “V” sign for victory).

Passionate about all Paralympic sports, Tom is also an avid mountain climber and skateboarder. Got a problem? Tom can solve it by pulling pretty much anything — including a ball, bicycle, or even an octopus! — out from his ever-growing leafy head. But he wants to get you excited about bringing out your very best self too. His mission? Inspire people to use creativity and determination to go beyond their limits.

As ambassadors to the Olympic games, it’s a safe bet that these charming, friendly icons will become universally adored by fans of all ages. After all, they already made history in another uniquely huge way — immortalized as the first Lego mascots of the games!


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