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Rediff.com  » Sports » Beijing mascots lose 'friendlies' tag

Beijing mascots lose 'friendlies' tag

October 16, 2006 16:20 IST

Beijing Olympic organisers have changed the English name of the mascots for the 2008 Games from the "Five Friendlies" to the pinyin transliteration of the Chinese name "Fuwa".

A spokesman for the Beijing Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (BOCOG) said the change had been made to help popularize the mascots among the Chinese people.

"Fuwa reads more smoothly. And we hope it helps the Chinese people to understand the mascots better," he said. "If they read about the friendlies, they might get confused."

The five cartoon mascots -- a fish "Beibei", a panda bear "Jingjing", a Tibetan antelope "Yingying", a swallow "Nini" and a flame "Huanhuan" --

were designed to convey a message of friendship, peace and blessings when they were launched last November.

The pictures of the mascots on the BOCOG Web site now carry the Chinese name Fuwa, which translates into English as "Lucky kids".

Doctor Li from Lanzhou University told state news agency Xinhua last year that the English name could be confusing.

"'Friendlies' has the same pronunciation as 'Friendless', which may lead to misunderstanding," he told Xinhua.

"Moreover, 'Friendlies' could be read 'Friend lies', a completely different meaning," he said.

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