Panda mascot Bing Dwen Dwen was a crowd favorite at the Winter Olympics — until it started talking


Written by By Yong XiongSimone McCarthy, CNNHong Kong

Beijing 2022’s Olympic mascot, a playful panda wearing an icy shell, has been a crowd favorite at the Winter Games — until it started talking.
Fans of the beloved panda, known as Bing Dwen Dwen, took to social media to express their outrage after the Olympic mascot spoke with a deep masculine voice on a program aired Tuesday by state broadcaster CCTV.

“Bing Dwen Dwen started talking. I was so disillusioned,” said one comment on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like platform. Others agreed, calling the voice “disgusting” and saying they couldn’t finish watching.

One post complaining about Bing Dwen Dwen’s voice got over 20 thousand reposts on Weibo.

Bing Dwen Dwen — or rather, a reporter in an inflatable Bing Dwen Dwen suit — was interviewing Chinese freeskier Yang Shuorui. However, the content of the interview was lost in the storm of outrage online.

The backlash came quickly and seems to have caught the network by surprise — CCTV had promoted the program before it aired but pulled it from its website on Wednesday.

Censors also tried to stem the outcry, banning certain hashtags on Weibo like “Bing Dwen Dwen started talking.”

But not before many had a chance to share their disappointment.

“I have been hurt…when I opened (the online shopping platform) Taobao and wanted to buy a Bing Dwen Dwen key ring, I would think of the voice of a middle-aged man,” one social media user wrote.

“I don’t want to hear the ‘uncle’ voice of the Bing Dwen Dwen. It’s just a little cute panda,” said another.

The round-bodied panda has won the hearts of fans during these Games after being seen dancing in the stands and eliciting huge cheers from Olympic crowds. Miniature stuffed Bing Dwen Dwens are awarded to winning athletes, with skiing sensation Eileen Gu among those seen holding one on the podium.

Merchandise for the winter sports-equipped panda has been “selling like hotcakes,” according to state media, with the Beijing organizing committee making a request to boost swag production to satisfy fans.

But the mascot’s popularity may take a hit after the latest outrage, which even had some users checking the rule books to point out that Olympic mascots are not meant to talk under International Olympic Committee (IOC) guidelines, in order to maintain a gender neutral status.

The Beijing Olympic Committee had reportedly signed a contract with the IOC prohibiting Bing Dwen Dwen from talking, according to Chinese state-run news outlet the Procuratorate Daily.

Source : Nbcnewyork