Red faces in France about Olympic mascots from China

Red faces in France about Olympic mascots from China


The Paris 2024 Olympics organizers’ choice of a cozy red Phrygian hat as the Games’ mascot is proving more difficult than expected after critics pounced on the fact that most are made in China – and others could not help but notice one Symbol seen of female sexuality.

The bold red triangles called Phryges, unveiled on Monday, are intended to commemorate the French Revolution, when anti-monarchists wore the cap now seen atop the Marianne icon of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity in almost all public buildings.

“The Phrygian cap is a symbol of freedom,” Tony Estanguet, a canoe master and president of the Paris 2024 organizing committee, told reporters.

But even though two French toymakers won the bid, the Paris Olympics committee said only eight percent of the mascots would be made in France – from materials produced in China – and the rest would be outsourced to China.

The business association Ethic denounced “an insult to all French companies” and said there was still time to produce the millions of toys at home.

“I would like to do it and we are working to ensure that France has the raw materials and textile factories to produce two million dolls in a few months, but the fact is that we cannot do it today,” government spokesman Olivier Veran said on Thursday.

“It’s a structural problem because France has been losing its factories for years,” he told France 2 TV.

Climate activists also contrasted the pollution that will result from shipping the toys to France with the government’s pledge to take stronger action against global warming.

France’s Environment Minister Christophe Bechu called the decision to outsource “a problem”.

“I would like to think that we have a few more months before the games start to rectify this,” he told Radio France Info on Tuesday.

“We will not find ourselves in a time where we say we need local distribution networks and reindustrialization to produce mascots on the other side of the world, especially as we defend the fight against global warming,” he said.

The Paris Games organizers defended the fact that the mascots were almost all made in China, “like the vast majority of toys sold in France”.

– ‘All the better’ –

But officials have yet to comment publicly on another controversy — widespread mockery on social media — that the red triangles more closely resemble a clitoris.

“A symbol of the capital that is both revolutionary and feminist,” the left-leaning daily Liberation said in an editorial on Thursday.

“Politically speaking, it’s not bad for Paris to distance itself from the eternally phallic Eiffel Tower,” she quipped.

The mascot was designed by a team led by Joachim Roncin, who created the distinctive “I Am Charlie” logo that gained worldwide notoriety following the January 2015 jihadist massacre in the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris.

“If people see a clitoris and know how to recognize a clitoris, that’s good for them,” Roncin told the Brut video site in an interview published Wednesday.

“Everyone sees what they want to see in a logo: if people see a clitoris, all the better.”

Others on social media noted that the mascot bore a striking resemblance to the giant inflatable clit erected by feminist activists across from the Eiffel Tower to mark International Women’s Day in March 2021.

Last but not least, the mascot is being hailed in some circles as a chance to bring awareness of female anatomy into the mainstream.

“The Phrygians may only convey a very rough picture that humans have of the clitoris. So maybe we can ask science teachers to redesign the mascots,” Francoise Cahen, a popular high school teacher in a Paris suburb, posted on Twitter.

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