When you think of an Olympic mascot, you probably expect it to be something that is representative of the host country. Mascots have been used in only the last 11 Summer Olympics (including London 2012).
Of those 11, here are the five best mascots to date:
Waldi, Munich 1972: He was the dachshund that started it all. That's why he's on the list. Besides being the very first Summer Olympics mascot, he exemplified everything that you look for in a country's mascot: authenticity and symbolism. Dachshunds are a breed native to Germany, and they signify qualities like tenacity and agility. These are characteristics inherent in an athlete. The mascot was multi-colored to reflect the joy and happiness of the Olympic Games.
Amik, Montreal 1976: Continuing with the animal theme, the next mascot to make the list is a beaver. His name -- Amik -- means beaver in the Algonquian language, which is the accepted language of Canada's Native Indians. Many people were unimpressed with the simplicity of the mascot, but the significance of the beaver is often overlooked -- hard work.
Misha, Moscow 1980: How can a list of noteworthy Olympic mascots exist without mentioning the bear cub named Misha? Created by children's book illustrator Victor Chizhikov, Misha was really the first mascot to grab international attention. The bear was cute, and it wore a belt that showcased the five interlocking rings of the Olympic flag. How could someone not love a cuddly bear that promotes the Olympic games?
Sam, Los Angeles 1984: I would be remiss if I didn't mention the mascot used by my own country for its turn as Olympic host. Like the nations before it, the United States chose the most patriotic animal it could: the eagle. The bird of prey was made to look a little more appealing via the talents of Walt Disney artist C. Robert Moore. With a red, white, and blue top hat reminiscent of Uncle Sam (hence the name), the eagle was the perfect representation of the strength of our great nation.
Hodori, Seoul 1988: It only seems like I'm going in chronological order. To be frank, the mascots created after the Korean Olympics strayed from the norm in both appearance and symbolism. Hodori, a friendly tiger, followed the same path of his predecessors in the sense that he was a mascot that people could get behind. He represented the warmth of the Korean people, and he even wore a traditional Korean dance hat on his head. Hodori was a real winner, as evidenced by the Olympic rings that he wore around his neck.
Jean Kelly has been a fan of the Summer Olympics since the '80s.
"Those Loony Olympic Mascots", Olympics.Time.com
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