Rio's Olympics, Paralympics mascots represent Brazil's animal, plant life
RIO DE JANEIRO -- A bright yellow cat-like figure is the mascot of the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
The smiley-faced mascot represents the animal life of Brazil. The mascot for the Paralympics is a mopped-headed doll with leafy hair, meant to represent the vast diversity of the flora in Brazil.
The mascots made their first official appearance on Monday. A public poll will be conducted to name the two from a shortlist of possibilities.
The cuddly, cartoon-like mascots are big business.
Organizers hope to raise 1 billion reals ($400 million) from branded merchandise. Income from merchandising makes up a big chunk of the $3 billion operating budget. Half of that budget is to come from the sale of local sponsorships.
The Olympic merchandising campaign will comprise about 12,000 products aimed mostly at children.
"Our expectation is that the mascots will represent 25 percent of our (merchandising) business," Slymara Mutini, head of licensing, told The Associated Press in a recent interview.
"We are all very, very excited about the mascots, and we truly believe that's an achievable goal. And we might even surpass it."
The mascot for this year's World Cup in Brazil -- an armadillo named Fuleco -- generated little interest. Some blamed this on pre-World Cup protests, and repeated delays and distractions in preparing venues.
In addition to the operating budget, Rio is spending about $20 billion in a mix of private and public money to prepare sports venues and urban infrastructure. Brazil spent about $15 billion on the World Cup.