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People plump for panda as Olympic mascot
By Liu Li (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-11-10 05:51

The Olympic mascot guessing game will soon be over.

The long-awaited identity of the mascot for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games will finally be revealed by Olympic organizers tomorrow night at a grand ceremony to be held in the Workers' Gymnasium.

However, many people are already rooting for some favourites to become the mascot for China's first-ever Olympic Games.

People plump for panda as Olympic mascot
Twin Giant panda cubs play at China Giant Panda Protection and Research Centre in Wolong National Natural Reserve, southwest China's Sichuan province November 5, 2005. The cubs are about three month old. [newsphoto]

In the past Games, wildlife has normally been seen as a smart choice to be the mascot. Endangered animals which are peculiar to China, such as the giant panda and the Tibetan antelope, have won a lot of support from Chinese people.

"I love pandas," said Zhang Junyong, a Beijing resident. "I sincerely hope that the panda will be the mascot."

There are many people like Zhang who think the panda, China's most widely recognized animal, will be more easily embraced by the international community if it is crowned the mascot. The panda topped various Olympic mascot candidates in an online survey conducted in June, in which 5 million people participated.

Wild panda only live in mountains in Southwest China's Sichuan Province, and Northwest China's Shaanxi and Gansu Provinces. Less than 1,000 pandas exist in the world today.

Panda, however, was chosen as the mascot for the Asian Games in Beijing in 1990 and hurt its chances to become the mascot for the 2008 Games.

Meanwhile, the Tibetan antelope is also recognized by many as another good choice. The animals live at the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau at an altitude between 4,000 and 5,500 metres above the sea level.

"The animal portrays the Olympic spirit very well as it can run as fast as 100 kilometres per hour," said Yang Ling, a young teacher in Beijing.

Besides the Tibetan antelope, the other major candidates are the Chinese dragon, the Chinese tiger, the golden monkey and the red-crowned crane.

Figures from China's ancient fairytales such as "Monkey King" also won plenty of fans.

(China Daily 11/10/2005 page2)

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