Choosing sports mascots, especially for the Olympic Games, is always a highly anticipated act. Inescapable and extremely popular, they form a bond between the event and the people, contributing to the atmosphere and festive spirit.
With the Games coming back to the French capital in two summers’ time, the Paris 2024 Olympics are no exception to this rule.
Most of the time, mascot designers choose animals – an animal symbolic of the host country or to the competition.
In what’s a complicated time for the mascot creators, we checked in with Julie Matikhine, Chief Brand Officer, Paris 2024. What we found was a creator team going in a bold, new direction.
“We wanted to do things differently,” explained Matikhine. “We said to ourselves: ‘What symbol represents us the most?’
“Our mascots are little Phrygian caps which have come to help us lead a revolution, a revolution through sport. That’s the vision of Paris 2024. It’s a vision that sees sport as able to change lives, able to change everything.”
For France, the Phrygian cap is a symbol of freedom, a symbol shared by generations of French people. Part of French society, this symbol of freedom can be found everywhere, from French schools and town halls to French money and stamps.
Enter The Phryges (free-jes). With a mascot depicting each sport, they are part of a large family, the Phrygian tribe. According to the mascot creators, the Olympic Phryge is the tribe’s strategist. It calculates everything, anticipates every move, with a mathematical mind.
Just like an elite athlete analysing its terrain and competitors, acting with poise and purpose so that it can control what happens.
"At Paris 2024, we wanted mascots that would embody our vision and be able to share it with the French people and the world,” said Tony Estanguet, President of Paris 2024. “Rather than an animal, our mascots represent an ideal. (Our) mascots also speak volumes about our commitment to a more inclusive society. One of them even wears a prosthetic running blade, raising the profile of Para athletes and people with disabilities.”
"We wanted mascots that would embody our vision and be able to share it with the French people and the world."
Matikhine also emphasised the visionary aspect of The Phryges.
“It’s part of our society,” Matikhine said. “This is a reference to the French spirit, a really unique character that has lasted centuries that has brought us together as a country, a human collective ready to achieve the exceptional.
“That was our vision during the French Revolution, and once again this will be our vision in the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. This is a revolution through sport.”