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The Fuwa
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    Mascots of the Beijing Olympics (2008)
    Beibei the sturgeon
    Jingjing the panda
    Huanhuan the Olympic flame
    Yingying the Tibetan antelope
    Nini the swallow
    Starred in the Chinese TV series 'The Olympic Adventures of Fuwa' (2007-08)
    They made a cameo appearance in the 'Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games' video game.
    According to the 'Curse of the Fuwa' each mascot is linked to a misfortune that befell China in the months before the Olympics.
    The Tibetan antelope reflected widespread demonstrations in Tibet.
    The torch represented international protests that plagued the Olympic torch relay.
    The swallow was linked to a train crash in Shandong province.
    The panda is a symbol of Sichuan, which was struck by a devastating earthquake.
    The final Fuwa, the sturgeon, was initially left unexplained as a curse yet to come.
    The curse was fulfilled in June by massive floods in southern and central China that killed over 160 and forced the evacuation of 1.6 million people.
    The Chinese government censors internet posts speculating about the curse.
    They were designed by Han Meilin, who was tortured during Mao's Cultural Revolution.
    The different colors of the Fuwa are the five colors of the Olympic rings.
    Their names were chosen so the first syllables create the phrase 'Beijing welcomes you.'
    The Chinese government dismisses talk of a curse as 'feudal superstition.'
    However, the government scheduled the Olympics to start at 8:08 on August 8 -- eight is a lucky number in China -- so who's being superstitious now?

Credit: C. Fishel

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