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The Sochi Olympic mascots are here — and they're surprisingly normal

Leopards and hares and bears, oh my! 

The mascots for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics are here, and in comparison to previous Games' characters, these guys won't keep us up at night.

Michael Kappeler / Today
A volunteer wears an Olympic mascot "Doe Hare" hat in Krasnaya Polyana.

Since 1972, it has been an Olympic tradition for each Games to have its own mascots. According to the Olympic Organizing Committee's official mascot page the mascot "can be a person, an animal or a fictitious being, which reflects the cultural characteristics of the host country and symbolizes the values of the modern Olympic Movement." The process for selecting the mascot is left up to the organizers of the Games.

Julian Finney / Today
One of the Sochi 2014 mascots takes a stroll through the Athletes Village ahead of the Olympics.

The polar bear, hare and leopard were chosen from more than 24,000 sketches submitted, voted on in a poll, and then narrowed down by a judging panel. This marks the first time the mascots have been selected by an entire nation.

Alexander Hassenstein / Today
A family takes pictures with Olympic mascot at the beach of Sochi sea port on February 2, 2014.

While some mascots in the past have bordered on creepy (remember the giant-eyed cyclops from the London Games?), the Sochi characters are cute and cuddly. 

In fact, the furry friends have already racked up more than 20,000 fans on their Facebook page. 

Check out more of the mascots from previous Games in the slideshow.

  • Slideshow Photos

    Handout / X80001

    Image: Handout shows the unnamed mascots of the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games during their first appearance in Rio de Janeiro

    Olympic mascots

    One of the many traditions of the modern Olympics is that each Games have its own mascot. Meet the madcap mascots of the Games.

  • Image: Handout shows the unnamed mascots of the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games during their first appearance in Rio de Janeiro

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    Olympic mascots -

    One of the many traditions of the modern Olympics is that each Games have its own mascot (sometimes more than one). Many have been cuddly, but some are a bit... weird. Take a look at the history of Olympic mascots. The Rio 2016 Olympic mascots debuted Nov. 23, 2014, inspired by Brazilian fauna and flora. The one on the left "is a mixture of different Brazilian animals, blessed with their many qualities: the agility of the cats, the sway of the monkeys, the grace of the birds." The tree creature is designed to represent Paralympic athletes. "He is transforming all the time." Their names will be decided through a public vote.

    Reuters / Reuters
  • Japan Team Welcome Ceremony

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    Sochi, 2014: The Polar Bear, The Hare, and The Leopard -

    The Olympic mascots are seen during a welcome ceremony for the Japanese delegation prior to the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, at the Coastal Olympic Village in Sochi, Russia on Feb. 2.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: Olympic Mascots Wenlock and Mandeville p

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    London, 2012: Wenlock and Mandeville -

    The mascots of the London games are supposedly drops of molten steel with cameras for eyes. Mandeville is named after the English village of Stoke Mandeville, where the first Paralympic Games were held; Wenlock is named after another village, Much Wenlock, which set up a forerunner to the modern Olympics back in 1850.

    AFP - Getty Images / AFP - Getty Images
  • Miga Quatchi Sumi

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    Vancouver, 2010: Miga, Quatchi and Sumi -

    The mascots for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada, came from Canadian mythology. Miga (left) was part killer whale and part kermode bear; Quatchi (center) was a friendly sasquatch (as in Bigfoot), and Sumi (right) was an animal guardian spirit. The trio also had a sidekick, not shown: Mukmuk, a Vancouver Island marmot.

    AP / AP
  • Olympics Day 3 - Diving

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    Beijing, 2008: The Fuwa -

    Collectively known as the Fuwa (Chinese for "good luck dolls"), the five mascots of the Beijing Olympics corresponded to the five Olympic rings, as well as to five Feng Shui elements. From left, there was Nini, a swallow; Yingying, a Tibetan antelope; Huanhuan, the Olympic flame; Beibei, a fish, and Jinging, a giant panda. The five names form the Chinese phrase "Beijing huan ying ni," which means "Beijing welcomes you."

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Turin Olympic Games - Preview - 3 Days To Opening Ceremony

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    Turin, 2006: Neve and Gliz -

    From left, the mascots of the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy were Neve, a snowball, and Gliz, an ice cube. The chilly chums were designed by Pedro Albuquerque.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Athens Prepares For The Summer Olympic Games

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    Athens, 2004: Athena and Phevos -

    The 2004 Summer Games in Athens, ancient birthplace of the Olympics, brought us sibling mascots with enormous feet: Athena (left) and her brother Phevos. They represent two modern children resembling ancient Greek dolls.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Olympics Mascots X

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    2002, Salt Lake City: Copper, Powder and Coal -

    From left, Copper, a coyote; Powder, a snowshoe hare, and Coal, an American black bear, each wore a charm with their image. All three animals are indigenous to Utah, and major characters in Native American legend. They are named after natural resources important to Utah's economy.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • The mascots for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games make

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    2000, Sydney: Millie, Syd and Olly -

    From left, MIllie, an echidna; Syd, a platypus, and Ollie, a kookaburra, were three native animals chosen as mascots for the Sydney 2000 Games. They represented earth, water and air, respectively.

    AFP - Getty Images / AFP - Getty Images
  • Snowlets

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    1998, Nagano: The Snowlets -

    The mascots for the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan. were the four owls called Snowlets: Sukki, Nokki, Lekki and Tsukki. The owls represented the four major islands of Japan. So few Snowlets stuffed animals were made that by the second week of the Games, attendees were frantic to find them.

    AP / AP
  • Izzy, the Mascot of the Centennial Olympics, walks

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    1996, Atlanta: Izzy -

    The mascot of the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta was an abstract fantasy figure. It was called "Izzy", derived from "Whatizit?" because no one seemed to know exactly what "Izzy" really was.

    AFP/Getty Images / AFP/Getty Images
  • OLYMPIC MASCOTS

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    1994, Lillehammer: Kristin and Hakon -

    The 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway, brought us mascots Kristin and Hakon: Two Norwegian children dressed in Viking clothes.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
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    1992, Barcelona: Cobi -

    Spaniards did not immediately take to Cobi, a cubist-style Catalan sheepdog designed by Barcelona cartoonist Javier Mariscal. But the mascot's popularity slowly grew, and by the end of the Games he was loved both in Spain and around the world.

    AP / AP
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    1988, Seoul: Hodori -

    Hodori, the mascot of the 1988 Summer Games in Seoul, South Korea, portrayed the friendly side of a tiger, which is present in many Korean legends. The "Ho" comes from the Korean word for tiger, and "Dori" is a common masculine diminutive. The streamer on his hat in the shape of an S stood for Seoul.

    Olympic Studies Center / Olympic Studies Center
  • Hidy and Howdy

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    1988, Calgary: Hidy and Howdy -

    Polar bears Hidy and Howdy, mascots for the 1988 Winter Games in Calgary, were designed by Sheila Scott to represent Western Canadian hospitality.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • SAM THE EAGLE OPENING CEREMONY

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    1984, Los Angeles: Sam -

    What could be more American than a bald eagle and Uncle Sam? That's why Sam, a bald eagle, was designed by Robert Moore (from The Walt Disney Company) for the 1984 Summer Olympics in L.A.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Moscow Mascot

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    1980, Moscow: Misha -

    As the eagle is to the U.S., so was the bear to the U.S.S.R. Hence Misha the bear cub was designed by Victor Chizhikov and selected as the mascot for the 1980 Moscow Olympics.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
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    1976, Innsbruck: Schneemann -

    A snowman named Schneemann was chosen to be the official mascot for the 1976 Winter Olympic Games in Innsbruck, Austria. "Schnee" is German for "snow."

    AP / AP
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    1976, Montreal: Amik -

    One of Canada’s most distinctive mammals, the beaver, was chosen as the mascot for the Summer Games of Montreal in 1976. Unfortunately, some strange choices were made for Amik the beaver's design: Over the years he’s been described as everything from flattened roadkill to a bad mullet.

    Olympic Studies Center / Olympic Studies Center
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    1972, Munich: Waldi -

    Waldi, the mascot of the 1972 Munich Games, was the first official Olympic mascot. A dachshund, chosen to represent athletic tenacity and agility, Waldi had a light blue head and vertical stripes with at least three of the five Olympic colors.

    Olympic Studies Center / Olympic Studies Center


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