The Organising Committee of the Paris 2024 Olympic Games has borrowed from French history and culture and created a mélange with the current global situation to choose its Mascot for the Games – a Phrygian cap that reflects freedom and liberty, ideas that were at the foundation of the modern French nation.
At a press conference held at the Organising Committee’s headquarters in the Parisian suburb of Aubervilliers and just a stone’s throw away from the main stadium for the Olympics, the Stade de France, Tony Estanguet, President of the Organising Committee and his team unveiled the mascot for the Olympics as well as the Paralympic Games.
“Instead of going for an object or an animal, as has been the trend in the past Olympics, we thought of making an idea or an ideal as our mascot and what better ideal that connects with the French identity than the ideal of liberty and freedom,” Estanguet told the press conference.
The two mascots have been called “Les Phryges”. The organisers said that though the name is typically French and a tongue twister, they had tested it on non-French speakers and they did not have trouble pronouncing the word as “freezh.”
Though originally from Persia and Turkey, the soft red cap had become a symbol of the pursuit of liberty in the French Revolution. It has adorned the figure of Marianne, the national personification of France since that time.
For the Olympics, the Phrygian cap, triangular in shape, comes with a friendly smile and large, round eyes, a tricolor ribbon as well as tricoloured sneakers. The mascot for the Paralympics comes with a prosthetic leg, a first for the Olympic mascots so far, say the organisers, adding that it was done in order to put the focus on the issue of disabilities and the need for greater inclusion.
The organisers say that it took the designers and creators about two years to finalise the mascot.
Michael Jeremiasz, gold medalist in wheelchair tennis at the 2008 Beijing Paralympics, said the prosthesis sends an inclusive message to disabled people around the world.
“That’s the key for us, because we suffer from being invisible in society,” he said. “We have to use Paris 2024 as a powerful tool to change our rights.”
Responding to a query by India Outbound, Estanguet said that the idea of inclusivity in the Olympics had to go across the frontiers and not remain only limited to individual societies or countries. “Recognising that not every sportsperson has access to the same kind of training facilities and incentives that athletes in some countries may have, the organising committee of Paris Games as well as the International Olympic Committee have decided to adopt sobriety instead of extravagance in preparations for the Games,” Estanguet told India Outbound.
“We are trying to use the existing infrastructure for the Paris 2024 Olympics to the extent possible and we will continue to do so in the spirit of inclusivity and sobriety and not flashiness as far as the Olympics go,” Estanguet added.
The mascot and other merchandise of the Games will go on sale from Tuesday at select stores in France. Though the fabric for the merchandise would be made in Bretagne region of France, an overwhelming share of the final products would be made in China. The organisers say that they expect about 2 million mascots to be sold between now and the Games in 2024.
Estanguet added that keeping sustainability at the heart of the Games, the organising committee had set rigorous conditions for the two French companies that bagged the bid for manufacturing the mascots and that their performance would be closely monitored by the organising committee to ensure that they adhere to the sustainability elements as outlined in their contracts.
The Paris Olympic Games will be held from July 26 to August 11, 2024 and the Paralympics from August 28 to September 8. This is the second time that the French capital will host the Games. Incidentally, Paris was also the host of summer Olympics in 1924.