February 7, 2022
BEIJING – The Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics mascot, Bing Dwen Dwen, a cuddly panda with an ice crystal shell, has become everyone’s new favorite.
In the Olympic Village, athletes and staff are scrambling to post photos and videos with the panda and buy merchandise. Outside the closed Olympic loop, mascot merchandise like keychains and dolls are already out of stock at licensed online retailers and many physical shops.
“Every time we restocked, we sold out in half an hour. The demand completely exceeds supply,” said Liu Hao, one of the workers at the souvenir shop in the Zhangjiakou Mountain Media Center. Liu added that Bing Dwen Dwen is particularly popular with foreign visitors.
Huang Jingran, who works at Zhangjiakou’s Genting Ski Resort, started waiting in line at 8:15am in front of the official store on Saturday, 45 minutes before doors opened.
“I thought I could buy everything later, but I didn’t expect the merchandise to be so popular, so I waited in line before the shop opened, hoping to get some as soon as they became available,” she said.The cute panda has won the hearts of millions around the world since the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics kicked off on Friday. The Brazilian team posted a picture on Twitter showing two athletes tightly hugging Bing Dwen Dwen pillows in their room even before they’d unpacked their luggage. Brazilian freestyle skier Sabrina Cass and Dutch Skeleton racer Kimberley Bos both posted photos with the mascot on social media.
On her vlog, Czech ice dancer Natalie Taschlerova also showed the gifts and souvenirs she’d received after moving into the Olympic Village. At the end of the video, she wished her followers a good night, writing “the first night with my panda” as the shot showed a Bing Dwen Dwen pillow to one side. Taschlerova told Global Times that she “almost cried” when she saw the mascot.
A Japanese video report also went viral after the reporter Gido Tsujioka, showed six Bing Dwen Dwen badges pinned to his press card, earning himself the nickname of “Gido Dwen Dwen” for his affection for the mascot.
Christophe Dubi, Olympic Games executive director at the International Olympic Committee, said that the panda was a lively, fun and witty mascot, full of positive energy. “I have to add it to my collection and it’s for children all over the world,” he added.On Sina Weibo, the Olympic panda has also been top of the trending topics. As of Sunday, “Bing Dwen Dwen” has garnered more than 2.26 billion views and 656,000 comments. Other topics, including “Bing Dwen Dwen emojis”, “Winter Olympic top favorite Bing Dwen Dwen”, “How cute is Bing Dwen Dwen” and “How to own a Bing Dwen Dwen”, have also been very popular.
Souvenirs have sold out on the official online licensed Tmall store. Fu Yuchen, 27, from Chengdu in Sichuan province, said that she wanted to buy Bing Dwen Dwen merchandise after she saw the mascot at the opening ceremony, but that she had been too late.
“I kept refreshing the store page the whole evening, but they were out of stock,” she said, adding that a scalper has sold a Bing Dwen Dwen blind box for over 2,000 yuan ($315). The official price is just 700 yuan.
Other media reported that people waited in front of the licensed flagship store in Beijing from the wee hours of Saturday morning. Although the store didn’t open until 9:30am, by 7:50am, one customer reported that there were already over 280 people in front of her.Zhao Weidong, spokesman for the Beijing Winter Olympic Organizing Committee, said at a news conference on Sunday that the merchandise shortage was partly because many factories were closed for the Chinese New Year holiday, and so could not cope with the sudden burst of demand.
“We’re coordinating with relevant departments to increase the supply of Bing Dwen Dwen merchandise,” he said, adding that the demand reflected the great attention the Beijing Winter Olympics are attracting.
Bing Dwen Dwen was officially chosen from among over 6,000 applicants as mascot in September 2019. Cao Xue, the panda’s chief designer, said he’d drawn inspiration from a traditional Beijing snack called tanghulu — candied hawthorn fruit — to create the ice shell, and to make the panda look more adorable, the team based it on a cub.
Li Yi, 28, of Xian in Shaanxi province, said that Bing Dwen Dwen perfectly fits the current aesthetic. “The mascot looks cute, soft, silky and a bit clumsy. It has the sweetness of tanghulu and also the cuteness of a roly-poly panda. Who doesn’t want to have one?” she said.Beijing resident Yu Xi, was one of the lucky ones to get a small Bing Dwen Dwen doll. She said that initially she only knew there were two mascots for the Winter Olympics and Paralympics, but that she hadn’t had any particular feeling toward them.
As the Games approached, she began to see them all over the place, including in many GIF images. One, in which Bing Dwen Dwen shakes snow of its shell, particularly touched her
“Then I heard people saying that Bing Dwen Dwen is a candied panda. Who could say no to a panda? Let alone a candied one?” Yu said.
The 25-year-old said she was happy to have Bing Dwen Dwen as the Winter Olympics mascot. “On the one hand, the ice shell references the Winter Games, and on the other, the panda is a symbol of China, friendly and cute. I give the design 10 out of 10!” she said.