Winter Games Panda Mascot, Bing Dwen Dwen, is as Popular as Many of the Athletes

Natalie Frank, Ph.D.

The stuffed panda mascot for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games sells out daily and with some offered online for huge profit
Olympic speed skating oval, BeijingArne Museler/Wikipedia

What’s black and white, weighs about half a pound and is dressed like an astronaut? Why, Bing Dwen Dwen, the panda mascot of the 2022 Olympic winter games, of course! Never has an Olympic mascot caused the stir that the 2022 Beijing mascot is causing.

Bing Dwen Dwen, the adorable stuffed panda dressed in an ice outfit meant to resemble a space suit, is being given to athletes along with each medal won and replicas in different sizes and outfits have been sold in a variety of retailers around Beijing. As athletes and attendees started seeing these pandas awarded, more and more of them wanted their own.

Getting your hands on one of the mascots however, isn’t easy and takes a lot of patience and waiting. The stuffed panda and associated paraphernalia such as key chains, necklaces and mugs sold out almost immediately and new stock often sells out daily. People in China have been forming long lines to buy one of replicas, often to be disappointed after waiting for hours, when it is announced that the pandas have sold out.

The past few nights have seen fans camping out overnight at stores rumored to be getting in the stuffed animals and panda memorabilia. Some lines have stretched more than 1200 people long. Friday night, hundreds of die-hards spent the night outside a flagship store in Beijing despite announcements saying that all items, including stuffed animals and memorabilia were sold out. Many have braved subfreezing temperatures for hours in the hopes of just being able to order a Bing Dwen Dwen item which will only be available on February 22nd at the earliest, two days after the Olympic Games conclude.

Olympic organizers blamed the limited supply of panda souvenirs on factory shutdowns that occurred during the week-long Lunar New Year holiday that ended February 6th, two days after the start of the winter games.

Scalpers work together with some in line to try to increase their stock and others walking down long lines whispering that they have items to sell for any interested parties. They are asking five to ten times the price of the toys. Police are punishing anyone caught reselling Bing Dwen Dwen items at inflated prices.

Some of the more creative athletes who haven’t won medals have used their skills to fashion their own versions of the panda bear wearing a suit of ice. Others have started creating their own mascots from scratch. For example, American curler Rebecca Hamilton came up with a mascot she is calling Cocoa though it’s unclear what kind of animal it is supposed to be – some say a koala bear.

In Mandarin Chinese (the official language of China), "Bing" is translated to mean ice and also is a symbol of strength and purity. “Dwen Dwen” is translated to mean vigorous and full of life and is used to represent children. Colloquially, the name means chubby ice child.

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