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Scare Bears

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THE FIRST OLYMPICS with an official mascot was the 1968 Winter Games in Grenoble, where the world was introduced to Schuss, an amiable figurine of a globe-headed skier. Before long these avatars became cutesy, amorphous creatures meant to market the Olympics to kids and be sold as plush toys in gift shops. This year's creation, Vinicius—some sort of half monkey, half jungle cat—is harmless enough, but previous entries have progressed beyond off-putting to downright terrifying.

STRANGE

TERRIBLE

OLLY

(SYDNEY 2000)

This kookaburra, one of three mascots from Australia—including a platypus and an echidna—was an angry bird that might have been the model of the New Orleans Pelicans' fear-inducing and largely reviled mascot, Pierre.

IZZY

(ATLANTA 1996)

It had no regional tie, and it wore hats on its massive eyeballs, which had lightning-bolt lollipops jammed into them. And Izzy's one giant tooth was perfect for crushing kids' skulls, which would fit perfectly into the abyss of its mouth.

ATHENA, PHEVOS

(ATHENS 2004)

They were modeled after 3,000-year-old sculptures, but they looked like someone jammed a finger through an Apollo capsule and stuck on Mr. Potato Head feet. One writer described them as animated condoms.

THE FUWA

(BEIJING 2008)

This quintet of creatures was meant to represent indigenous animals and the torch in the form of Chinese good-luck dolls, but they ended up being blamed for a series of disasters—an earthquake, a train crash, floods—before the Games.

WENLOCK

(LONDON 2012)

An all-seeing, Big Brotherish cyclops that some claimed was festooned in occult imagery (the pyramid cap, the heart-shaped face), it seemed as if it was designed to scare children into staying inside and watching the Olympics.

THEY SAID IT

"I BET HE WAS A GOOD PLAYER IN HIGH SCHOOL. I WAS TOO."

Buck Showalter

Orioles manager, who was a college All-America and spent seven years in the minors without a call-up, discussing Tim Tebow's baseball "career."

SIGN OF THE APOCALYPSE

Aug. 10 was Umbrella Night at Target Field, when the Twins hosted the Astros. The game got rained out.