They’re HEEEEERRRRREEE. Everywhere you look in Beijing. The Fuwa, the Official Mascots of the 2008 Olympics. I’m not seeing the appeal. They are supposed to represent different iconic elements, mostly of China: Beibei is the Fish, Jingjing is the Panda, Huanhuan is the Olympic Flame, Yingying is the Tibetan Antelope and Nini is the Swallow. When you put their names together – Bei Jing Huan Ying Ni – they say, “Welcome to Beijing”.

Cute ambassadors to China. That’s the theory. In reality, they are what you might expect if The Care Bears mated with the Teletubbies and took singing lessons from Alvin and the Chipmunks. They are that annoying. But, among the Beijingers, they are wildly popular. There are more posters and paraphenalia of them than of Yao Ming. Whenever the Fuwa appear, they are mobbed by fans. Especially teenage girls.

After two events, we’re starting to realize that The Fuwa, are going to inflict their routines on us at the start of every event. Even when the Fuwa exit Stage Left and you think you are safe, little LCD and animated versions do their dance and their annoying song every five minutes on the Jumbotron. Even worse, there are several versions of them tailored to every event. At Women’s Gymnastics, the Fuwa were mostly large heads on plush clad bodies, allowing them to do a sort of Kung-Fu in Vegas high stepping routine.

The Gymnastics Fuwa did a high-stepping Vegas routine. And it was that cheesy.

The Gymnastics Fuwa did a high-stepping Vegas routine. And it was that cheesy.

At the Swimming event, the Fuwa were more like blow-up pool toys. It took an entourage of helpers to steer the little darlings around the venue. For their “act”, they couldn’t do much more than roll around by the side of the pool. And it took all I could do not to reach out with my pen and pop one. Especially when that Panda got his big balloon head between me and my sightline to Michael Phelps. Did I mention that, whenever they appear, an incredibly high-pitched Asio-Pop song called “My Sweet Beijing” or some such thing starts to play on a continuous loop at full volume?

Get your big fat balloon head out of my way so I can see Michael Phelps!

Get your big fat balloon head out of my way so I can see Michael Phelps!

The Panda, especially, is always mobbed by teenage girls. Hes the Elivis of Fuwa. Even the Fuwa Poobah.

The Panda, especially, is always mobbed by teenage girls. He's the Elivis of Fuwa. You could even call him The Fuwa Poobah.

Just do a YouTube search on Fuwa and you can see all their videos!

Andy and I resolved to avoid the Fuwa at all costs. Then we realized, it’s impossible. It’s a Fuwa World and we just live in it. Case in point, we got back to our room after the Swimming Event and what did we find? This:

Thanks UPS. Just what we wanted. Some plushy Fuwa.

Thanks UPS. Just what we wanted. Some plushy, cuddly Fuwa.

Looks like the terriers will have some new toys.

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