©IOC Ian Jones
Each mascot’s name is composed of two rhyming syllables; a way of showing affection to children in China. We have the fish, Beibei; the panda, Jingjing; the flame, Huanhuan; the antelope, Yingying; and the swallow, Nini. Putting together the first syllable of each of their names, you get: Bei Jing Huan Ying Nin, which can be translated as “Welcome to Beijing!”
It was decided to create five mascots for the Beijing Olympic Games in order to better represent China in all its richness and diversity. Thus, four of China’s most popular animals (fish, giant panda, Tibetan antelope and swallow) accompany the flame, the embodiment of the Olympic spirit. Furthermore, the number five refers to the five Olympic rings and the five elements in nature, according to Chinese tradition: the sea, the forest, fire, earth and sky.