Meet Vinicius, official mascot of Rio 2016

Picture by Rio 2016 / Daniel Ramalho

Named after one of Brazil’s most prominent 20th century cultural icons, Vinicius des Moraes, the mascot for the Olympic Games Rio 2016 constitutes a blend of animals native to Brazil, and symbolises the energy and joie de vivre exuded by the Brazilian people.

I’m Vinicius, the mascot for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. I’m a mix of all of the different animals found in Brazil. Vinícius Rio 2016 - Vinícius Rio 2016

“Allow me to introduce myself: I’m Vinicius, the mascot for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. I’m a mix of all of the different animals found in Brazil. I was born out of the explosion of joy that followed the announcement that Rio would host the Olympic Games, on 2 October 2009,” states the mascot on his website.

Vinicius possesses the agility of cat, the balancing skills of a monkey and the grace of a bird. He is capable of stretching out his arms and legs as long as he wants, and he has a heightened sense of smell and hearing. When creating him, his designers drew inspiration from pop culture as well as video game and cartoon characters. With his colleague Tom, the mascot for the Paralympic Games, Vinicius represents the diversity of Brazilian culture and people, as well as their exuberant nature. He was officially unveiled to the public on 23 November 2014, but he did not yet have a name.

It was at that point that 320,000 fans of the Olympic Games had their say on the mascot’s name, voting for one of three shortlisted names: Oba, Tuque and Vinicius.

Vinicius, the official Rio 2016 mascot as a plush toy
Picture by Rio 2016 / Alex Ferro

The last-mentioned option was included as a tribute to Vinicius de Moraes, a renowned Brazilian poet, essayist, playwright, musician and lyricist, who penned the words to the global hit song “Garota de Ipanema” (“The Girl from Ipanema”), which introduced Bossa Nova music to the rest of the world at the beginning of the 1960s. On 14 December 2014, the result was announced: the mascot would be known as Vinicius. Over to Vinicius himself to continue the story. “My age is not counted like yours, so nobody knows exactly how old I am. But I spend my life playing, jumping, running and smiling, just like any other kid! I can stretch and stretch myself as much as I want. And since I’m a mixture of Brazilian animals, I can do all the great things they can do: run faster, jump higher, be stronger. I can also imitate the voice of any animal. I’m super-communicative!”

Vinicius plays all Olympic sports, and his favourite pastime is making new friends; he is always connected, so that he can meet people from all over the world. The mascot is said to live in a tree-house in the Tijuca Forest, where he can see the whole city and prepare for new adventures.

During the Games, Vinicius’ self-stated mission will be to spread joy throughout the world and celebrate the friendships that flourish between people from all over the planet at this incredible sporting event.