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Japanese school kids choose 2020 Olympic mascots

Ryo Taniguchi, winning designer of the official mascots for the 2020 Olympics (L) and Paralympics Games, answers questions during a press conference at an elementary school in Tokyo on February 28, 2018. Tokyo on February 28 unveiled its long-awaited mascot for the 2020 Olympic Games: a futuristic blue-checked, doe-eyed character with pointy ears and "special powers" that was picked by schoolchildren across mascot-mad Japan. / AFP PHOTO / TORU YAMANAKATORU YAMANAKA/AFP/Getty Images
TORU YAMANAKA/AFP/Getty Images
Ryo Taniguchi, winning designer of the official mascots for the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics Games, answers questions during a news conference at an elementary school in Tokyo.

TOKYO — The schoolchildren have had their say: A pair of futuristic digital characters will be the mascots for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics.

Organizers unveiled the winning designs at a school in Tokyo on Wednesday.

A total of 205,755 classes at 16,769 elementary schools took part in selecting three short-listed designs, with their classes casting a single vote.

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The winning pair, clad in the ‘ichimatsu’’ checkered pattern of the Games’ official logo, received 109,041 votes.

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‘‘The Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games finally have their mascots,’’ said Ryohei Miyata, head of the mascot selection panel. ‘‘This means a lot, especially in Japan. I cannot wait to see these two characters coming to life in the stadiums, on the streets and on TV.’’

Organizers say the mascots combine tradition with innovation.

Their names will be decided by copywriters and other professionals and announced in July or August.

The selection process involving schoolchildren was introduced to get students enthusiastic about the games while also ensuring transparency.

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The original official logo was hit with plagiarism allegations and scrapped.

The designer of the winning mascots is Ryo Taniguchi, who graduated as an art major from Cabrillo College in California, and is currently active as a character designer/illustrator. His work has been featured by companies and at exhibitions in Japan.

The Tokyo Olympics are scheduled for July 24 to Aug. 9, 2020.

PyeongChang 2018 mascots dance during the Closing Ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympic Games.
David Ramos/Getty Images
PyeongChang 2018 mascots dance during the Closing Ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympic Games.

Olympic mascots the Hare, the Polar Bear, and the Leopard perform during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony.
Quinn Rooney/Getty Images
Olympic mascots the Hare, the Polar Bear, and the Leopard perform during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony.