The Truth About The 2022 Paralympic Mascot

This little red figure with shiny black eyes and a gold scarf isn't some stylish new Teletubby. It's the mascot of the Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympics, 雪容融, transliterated as Shuey Rhon Rhon. Per the International Olympic Committee, Shuey is a Chinese lantern child. Paper lanterns are a fixture of traditional Chinese culture, not only on the Lunar New Year but throughout the year, a symbol of agricultural harvests and various festivals.

For those who don't speak Chinese, Shuey Rhon Rhon is a bit of a play on words. "Shuey" is a homophone of the Mandarin word for snow, but it means, roughly, to include or tolerate. Rhon can be a verb, meaning melt or fuse, or an adjective, meaning warm. In the Olympic Committee's words, "the full name of the mascot promotes the desire of having greater inclusion for people with impairments throughout society, and more dialogue and understanding between the cultures of the world." Plus snow, because it's the Winter Paralympics.

A long line of mascots

Every Olympic or Paralympic Games has had a mascot since 1968, when the Grenoble Winter Olympics debuted Shuss, a wormy, oddly endearing little skiing ... thing with a red ball for a head and one zigzag leg. Shuss' creator, Aline Lafargue, created him (it?) the night before the submission due date for mascot designs. Procrastination notwithstanding, Shuss was proved a success, selling as keychains and other mementos and setting a pattern for each successive Olympic and Paralympic Games (as well as FIFA World Cups and other major sporting events). Interestingly, Shuey Rhon Rhon and Shuss have quite a bit in common, mostly the big red head. 

In 2022, Shuey will be accompanied by a variety of other significant symbols. The Paralympic torch, for example, also has a name: 飞扬, or Fei Yang, which means flying. Fei Yang's name refers to the ambition and perseverance of Paralympic athletes. It is also made of carbon-free material, with a flame that burns on emission-free hydrogen — a symbol of "the Beijing Organizing Committee's endeavor to stage a 'green and high-tech Games,'" per the IOC