Organizers of the Tokyo Olympics have unveiled the shortlist of three designs, with one to be selected as the official mascot of the 2020 Games.
The Olympic and Paralympic designs, which celebrate the themes of harmony, diversity and resilience, were unveiled on Thursday by pupils at a Tokyo elementary school.
The 6.5 million schoolchildren will review the shortlisted designs with their classes casting a single vote in favor of one of the three sets.
After a bungled rollout of the official Olympic logo that led to it being scrapped following accusations of plagiarism, local organizers have left the selection of the Tokyo 2020 mascots in the hands of Japanese schoolchildren.'
From December 11 to February 22, pupils at every elementary school across Japan - and Japanese schools overseas - will choose their favorite design, with each class casting a single vote.
The winner will be announced on February 28.
The first set is a pair of humanoid characters clad in the "ichimatsu" checkered pattern of the Games’ official logo.
The second features a "maneki neko" (good-luck cat) and a fox commonly seen at Shinto shrines.
While the third design features a fox and a dog with gold ribbons on their backs.
Children pose for photographers in front of the shortlisted three mascot design sets. /AP Photo
Tokyo organizers will hope to make smooth progress on the mascots to build on recent momentum following a series of public relations disasters.
Last month, Tokyo opened its first new permanent venue for the 2020 Olympics - a welcome boost after plans for the main stadium were torn up by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe two years ago over its two-billion-US-dollar price tag.
Designs for the official Games emblem were then scrapped amid a plagiarism row.
There was more bad news in October when Olympic organisers admitted that prolonged summer rain had brought high levels of bacteria to a venue earmarked for triathlon and open water swimming.
While Tokyo has taken successful measures to reduce costs, the International Olympic Committee has urged local organizers to try to further cut its current 12 billion US dollars Games budget.
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