Japan has named its official mascots for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The two futuristic creatures, christened Miraitowa and Someity, were picked by schoolkids across the country.
Japan's superhero-like mascots for the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games made their formal debut at a ceremony in Tokyo on Sunday.
Miraitowa, a big-eyed, blue-checked character, will be the official Olympic mascot. Organizers said the name was a combination of the Japanese words for future and eternity, expressing "hope for a bright future stretching off forever."
The pink, pointy-eared Paralympic counterpart was christened Someity, which comes from the word for Japan's iconic cherry blossoms and also sounds a bit like the English words "so mighty," officials noted.
Winners of children's vote
The designs for the mascots were selected in February after schoolchildren across the country voted for their top two.
"These mascots are your friends," Tokyo 2020 organizing committee president and former Japanese Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori said at Sunday's ceremony.
"We had roughly 5 million students who chose these so the Olympics belongs to everyone, not just the athletes."
Mascots are a big deal in Japanese culture, where there are thousands of colorful characters representing everything from shops and schools to prisons.
The Tokyo Olympics are scheduled to run from July 24 to August 9, 2020.
nm/tj (AP, Reuters, AFP)