This year’s mascots were created by Birdo, a São Paulo-based design and animation company, through a national tender process. The story behind the mascots is that they were born from the joy of Brazilians after Rio won the right to host the 2016 Olympic Games, and they reflect Brazil’s diverse culture and people. Each of the two mascots, Vinicius and Tom, have their own special story and qualities that promote all the positive aspects of the Olympics and Paralympics.
The names of the mascots were determined by public vote and announced on December 14, 2014. Vinicius and Tom won the public hearts over the other two options of Oba and Eba, and Tiba Tuque and Esquindim. The names represent two iconic figures in Brazilian culture. Vinicius was named after the musician Vinicius de Moraes, who is most famous for his song ‘A Garota de Ipanema’ (The Girl of Ipanema – a must-listen before visiting Rio). He represents the wildlife in Brazil and captures the traits of Brazilian mammals, combining the agility of the cat, the sway of the monkey, and the grace of the birds. Tom, the Paralympic mascot, was named after Brazilian songwriter Tom Jobim and represents the plants of the forest.
The first Summer Olympic mascot was in 1972 in Munich where Waldi the dachshund dog stepped onto the scene, sparking the beginning of a series of highly anticipated Olympic mascots over the following years. Waldi represented resistance, tenacity, and agility, which were considered the necessary characteristics to be an athlete. From this milestone year followed many other fabulous mascots that became increasingly popular, capturing the Olympic spirit as well as communicating the concept of the Olympics and promoting the history and culture of the games and the host city. It has also proved to be an effective vehicle to reach children and show them what the Olympics is all about.
This bright yellow Summer Olympic mascot is a mix of all the Brazilian mascots. He can do all the best things that the Brazilian animals can do, such as run faster, jump higher, and be stronger than any other creature. He has special super-communicative skills that enable him to imitate the voice of any animal. Vinicius has a tree house in the heart of Tijuca Forest where he has an undoubtedly wonderful view across the entire city of Rio. His main purpose is to spread joy throughout the world and celebrate the friendship that these Olympic Games will bring.
The blue Paralympic mascot is Vinicius’s best friend and is a mix of all the plants found in the Brazilian forests. He can get himself out of any sticky situation with his extraordinary ability to pull objects out of his head of leaves, rather like Mary Poppins’s bag. Tom knows all the secrets of nature and lives by the motto that with creativity, intelligence, and determination, we can achieve anything we want. When he isn’t playing, having adventures outdoors, reading, or listening to Brazilian music, he likes to take naps on a water lily in the middle of a lake. Tom’s mission is to inspire others to use creativity and determination to always go further and to have fun.