Photo/IllutrationThe three pairs of mascot designs shortlisted for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics are unveiled on Dec. 7 at Kakezuka elementary school in Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward. (Makiko Ikenaga)

  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion

Children cheered as the three pairs of mascot designs shortlisted for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics that they will choose between were unveiled on Dec. 7 at Kakezuka Elementary School in Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward.

Voting by elementary students throughout the country will be held from Dec. 11 through Feb. 22, according to the Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. The children will participate only by classes as a unit, not as individuals.

As of 11:15 a.m. on Dec. 7, 4,150 schools had registered to participate in the voting.

“I want children to express their own opinions and feel the diversity and difference of opinions (through the voting process),” said Takeshi Natsuno, a guest professor at Keio University and a member of the selection panel.

The winning mascot designs are expected to be decided on Feb. 28. The three pairs will be known as candidates A, B and C until then.

After being named by experts, the mascots will be officially announced from July to August.

The Candidate A mascots both bear checkered patterns inspired by the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic emblems. The Olympic mascot features navy, while the Paralympic mascot has pink.

The Candidate B Olympic mascot is inspired by a "maneki-neko" beckoning cat and a fox, while the Paralympic mascot is created in the style of a “komainu” guard lion-dog.

As for Candidate C, the Olympic mascot features a fox, while the Paralympic mascot is inspired by a raccoon dog.

The 15-member selection panel shortlisted the three designs from 2,042 candidates received from both professionals and amateurs across Japan.

The panel is headed by Commissioner for Cultural Affairs Ryohei Miyata. The members also include TV personality Shoko Nakagawa.

Around 280,000 classes at various schools including elementary schools and special-needs schools will be given the opportunity to cast a vote in favor of one of the pairs.

Schoolchildren at international schools in Japan as well as Japanese schools overseas are also eligible to vote.

Once registered through a special site of the Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, children can join the voting with their classes.

The committee plans to offer posters that depict characteristics of the three pairs of mascot designs as well as educational materials with which students can learn about the histories and the significance of the Olympics and Paralympics as references for their discussions.