What are the Paris 2024 Olympic Mascots?

Posted by Josh on 27th Jun 2024 in the blog in the category

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With the Paris 2024 Olympic Games right around the corner, you've probably seen a lot of coverage of the individual athletes. But you might also have spotted a couple of tall, red, unshapely figures who don't look likely to win any gold medals for pole-vaulting.

In fact, these are the mascots for the Paris Olympics, and they’ve appeared in a good deal of the promotional efforts for the games this year. And while on the surface they might not appear to have anything to do with the Olympics, sports, or with France as a country, they are in fact emblematic of a key motif in French history.

The Phrygian Cap

The name Phryges (pronounced 'free-zhuh') derives from ‘Phrygean Cap’, an item of clothing associated with liberty and, by extension with France itself. The cap in turn takes its name from the Phrygians, an ancient people who lived in what is modern-day Türkiye. The cap later spread through the Greek and Roman worlds as a cultural icon, and came to symbolise liberty in the Roman Empire as it was awarded to slaves upon being freed. Given these associations with freedom, it was adopted by rebels in France during the Stamp-Paper revolt of 1675, and later by the revolutionaries during the French Revolution. Much as the red and blue uniform of the soldiers provided inspiration for the French flag, the caps worn by the revolutionaries became symbolic of liberty.

Not dissimilar in shape from the nightcap, the Phrygian cap has likewise fallen out of fashion, and you’re more likely to see someone sporting a beret on the streets of Paris these days than this storied piece of headgear. But it remains a symbol popular in France, making it an obvious choice for this year's Olympic Games mascot.

Other French mascots

The Phryges aren’t the only mascots that have represented France. In fact, they will be the third (and fourth) mascots to date, following 'Shuss', a little man on skis who was mascot for the Olympic Games in Albertville in 1992, and 'Magique', a star-shaped figured who represented dreams and imagination, and was the mascot for Grenoble in 1968 — the first mascot ever used in the Olympic Games.

The Phryges are the first French mascots whose design is inspired by a French national symbol — even if many can't quite figure out what it is!

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