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Cover Story


Since 1968, each Olympic Games has its own mascot, usually an animal native to the area or human figures with local connotations. The mission of the mascots is to reflect the host country’s spirit and cultural particularities, as well as to bring luck to the teams and add a note of fun to the competitions. Singapore has two mascots: one real, the other from the world of myths.


Lyo (pronounced as “Leo”) is a lion cub. His mane resembles the Flame of Passion of the Spirit of Youth, the Singapore YOG emblem, while his paw is shaped like the island of Singapore. Legend tells us that in the past, a prince visited a lovely tropical island. Upon landing, he spotted a beautiful lion, and so named the island “Singapura”, which means “Lion City”. The city-state of Singapore has the lion as its national symbol.

Star Sign: Leo.

Dream: To win a gold medal in an international basketball championship.

Personal Motto: «Never say never».

Favourite Food: Chilli crabs and chicken rice with lots of chilli!

Hobbies: Jamming on his guitar, discovering new things and playing sports.


Merly got her name from “mer”, meaning the sea, and “ly” for liveliness and youthfulness. She is a merlion cub. The merlion is a mythical sea creature that is part lion and part fish. It is inspired by Singaporean folklore and Singapore’s fishing village origins. Merly’s paw is shaped like a heart.

Star Sign: Aquarius.

Dream: To become an environmental scientist.

Personal Motto: «You can achieve anything if you pour your heart into it!»

Favourite Food: Ice kachang (a Singaporean dessert of shaved ice drenched in colourful syrup).

Hobbies: Singing, swimming and collecting seashells to return them to sea.


Merly and Lyo’s mascot predecessors are numerous and ave similar interesting stories

1968 Grenoble Winter Olympics

These Olympics were the first to have a mascot, even if not officially recognised as yet, – a whimsical Schuss who looked like a roly-poly on skis. Badges and figurines with Schuss’ image were selling like hotcakes during the games, so that the IOC began considering the idea of a mascot as a permanent element of the Olympics.

1980 Moscow Summer Olympics

Misha, or the Olympic Mishka (a diminutive of the Russian for bear and the name of the bear in Russian folklore), was designed by children’s book illustrator Victor Chizhikov. Misha pioneered a tradition of depicting mascot animals with distinctive anthropomorphic features: the proportions of a child’s body, a mile and human character traits.

1988 Calgary Winter Olympics

Howdy and Hidy, two polar bear siblings, represented Western Canadian hospitality and strong cowboy tradition (Calgary is famous for its annual cowboy festival). They were the first mascot duo in the Olympic Games.

1988 Seoul Summer Olympics

An Amur tiger was chosen as the patron of these games. Its name, Hodori, derives from “ho”, the Korean word for tiger, and “dori”, which is a diminutive for boys in Korean. Initially, Hodori had a girlfriend, the tigress Hosuni, but she was never popular.

1972 Munich Summer Olympics

The blue dachshund Waldi in a striped T-shirt prides itself in being the first official Olympic mascot and the only household pet among its peers. The dachshund is believed to possess qualities required by athletes: resistance, tenacity and agility.

1994 Lillehammer Winter Olympics

Håkon and Kristin, children from Norwegian folklore, were the first humanoid Olympic mascots. Several pairs of real-life boys and girls impersonated them to publicise the 1994 Winter Olympics.

1998 Nagano Winter Olympics

The four owls – Sukki, Nokki, Lekki and Tsukki – are believed to represent each year between the Olympic Games. The first part of each name may be combined phonetically to create a Japanese phrase that is quite nonsensical: “Let’s Snow”.

2004 Athens Summer Olympics

Athena and Phevos resemble ancient Greek dolls found at archaeological sites. The brother and sister pair is named after two Greek gods: Phevos, god of light and music, and Athena, goddess of wisdom and patroness of the city of Athens.



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