As the Games of the 30th Olympiad draw toward their close, there's been a lot of history, hype, and heartbreak, just as there is in every Summer Olympics.
But mostly there's been supremely god-awful official mascots. This time and the last time, and the time before that.
The modern Olympics got cranking in 1896 in Athens, cooked up by Pierre de Coubertin, a Frenchman who figured his country could better avenge its ass-whupping in the Franco-Prussian War on playing fields rather than battlefields. Sadly, the worst was still ahead for France and the rest of us when it came to war.
And mascots, too. The first official mascot for a Summer Games was unleashed at the 1972 Munich Games, which were conceived as a way of erasing the grim memories of the 1936 Berlin Games, which Hitler conceived as a showcase for his demented (and demonstrably false) version of homo superior. "Waldi" was a cartoon dachsund, about the only German-affiliated breed with no known Nazi or secret-police connotations (though they are given to wearing Kaiser helmets). If you don't remember Waldi, don't feel bad. He—and the Games he represented—featured incredible performances (such as Mark Spitz's seven swimming golds) but everything was overshadowed by the horrific murder of Israeli athletes by terrorists (an event whose 40th anniversary was ignored at this year's event).
Other Olympic mascots are best forgotten, though for less-disturbing reasons. The other mascots are not associated with tragedy as much as they embody it. Design by committee is never a good idea and when it comes to Olympic mascots, it seems like no idea is so bad that it can't be made even more rotten—and then dipped in multiple coats of WTF lacquer. Here's the five worst mascots of the Summer Games.
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