As the days grow long, we find ourselves thinking about what could have been. The questions bubble up, unbidden: Where are they now? Do they think of me?
I, of course, am talking about the mascots from the 2010 Olympics, Quatchi, Sumi, Miga and little Mukmuk. As you no doubt recall, Vancouver loved the Olympics so much that we needed four different proprietary characters—technically, three mascots and one “sidekick,” which I guess is a mascot for the mascots(?)—to effectively express our enthusiasm. These icons were an inspiration even for those of us who weren’t caught up in Olympic mania, for example, me, a person who, despite clearing my schedule for February 2010 and dropping a lot of pointed hints at parties and on the bus that I would be available to participate in any sport, for any country that needed me, was ultimately not invited to be an athlete and has remained bitter about it to this day.
Anyways! Despite this cruel rejection, I still think fondly of the friendly faces that acted as our plush ambassadors to the world. Though they came from different backgrounds—a “full of passion” sasquatch, a surfing sea bear, a thunderbird who loves cocoa and a marmot who’s just here to make friends—they united over the shared cause of patriotism and tourism dollars. And then, like a non-threatening boy in a top hat you made out with on vacation, they were never spoken of again.
Art by Byron Eggenschwiler.
But a decade after the Olympics transformed our city and with nothing better to do with my time, I attempted to track down these stuffed beacons of hope. The news, I found, was dire. While there were originally 61 mascot suits created to accommodate all the mascot-related demands of those buzzy two weeks, 48 of them were ultimately, as the Vancouver Sun callously put it, “rounded up and destroyed,” by order of the International Olympic Committee, who apparently are a cabal of supervillains who have decreed that mascots may not be “animated” once the Games have closed. VANOC has declined to admit how they were destroyed, but really, there is no dignified way to execute a smiling sasquatch.
There is some good news, though. If you are someone who was learning to do math instead of watching the gold-medal-winning hockey game, you probably realize this means there are 13 mascot suits still out there. One set (Sumi, Miga, Quatchi) is with the IOC in Switzerland. Another is at the Olympic Hall of Fame and Museum in Calgary. A lone Sumi is with the Paralympic Committee in Germany. But two sets are right here at home as part of the Legacy 2010 collection at the Museum of Vancouver (well, one Sumi is on loan to the Richmond Olympic Experience, but we’re sure our prodigal son will be back eventually).
I’m just glad to know they’re okay, and that if I make the next Olympics, they’ll be there to cheer me on. Fingers crossed they introduce a women’s category for Obsessing Over Unimportant Regional Pop Culture Ephemera from the Early 21st Century.
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