Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics

Why Are Olympic Athletes Getting Pandas Instead of Medals?

Maybe the fuzzy panda is an upgrade?

Some athletes are reaching the podium at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics ready for gold and getting — a cuddly panda.

If you've wondered why athletes are getting pandas instead of medals, don't worry, Olympic athletes will all get their medals eventually. It varies by event whether the receive medals at the venue or the medal plaza. 

Speed skaters have a venue ceremony where they get the panda, but they receive medals later at a victory ceremony at the medal plaza. Meanwhile Alpine skiers have their victory ceremonies, including the medals, at the venue. 

This isn’t the first Olympics where medalists have received a memento before their medal. They received mascots in PyeongChang, and they received little logo figurines in Rio.

Beijing Olympics mascot Bing Dwen Dwen has been popular — stuffed versions sold out at many stores in Beijing after the opening ceremony.

At least one medalist was inspired by the toy. China’s Su Yiming won silver in men’s snowboard slopestyle, and after posted a video on Weibo.

“Several days ago when I saw the Chinese Speed Skating Team standing on the podium holding Bing Dwen Dwen, I was really jealous. I realized that through my own efforts, I could also get one," he said. "Today I really was able to get one, I’m extremely happy. I hope through my performances I can win more Bing Dwen Dwen.”

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