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While anime character heavyweights such as Goku, Luffy, Sailor Moon, and Naruto have been named as official "ambassadors" of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, an official mascot has yet to be selected. That's because the Tokyo 2020 Olympics Organizing Committee is offering one lucky winner the chance to design the mascot themselves, with 1,000,000 yen ($8,975 USD) for the winner, and 100,000 yen ($896 USD) for finalists as incentive.
Guidelines state that the contest is open to both Japanese and foreign residents of Japan, and applicants are required to submit a mascot design for both the Olympic and Paralympic games with a text profile of the characters. As many will be familiar with, Japan has a strong fondness for mascots (so much that there is even a national contest to declare the best regional mascot), and the Olympics Organizing Committee is hoping that a mascot for the 2020 games can excite fans and welcome athletes. For that reason, it's asked that the mascot represent Japanese cultural heritage.
The Japan Times reports comments from Olympic minister Tamayo Marukawa, explaining the cultural importance of the mascot: "The Olympic mascot, which welcomes athletes and visitors from around the world, has a symbolic role. It is a great opportunity for all Japanese children to learn about cohesive society and the principles of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, which celebrate peace.
So how will those kids learn? Well, that's the best part. While the selection committee will announce three to four finalists in December, elementary schoolchildren from across Japan will vote for the winner. The name of the mascot will be handled by professional selectors, after processing feedback.
Submissions can be filed between August 1st and August 14th, and applicants must 18 and older to apply (those younger than that can apply with a guarantor).
Specific guidelines can be accessed here, and you can read more about the contest at the official site.