Two days after the opening of the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games, Bing Dwen Dwen, the Games' official mascot, is as appealing to people as athletes' performances, as figurines of the mascot are sold out of stores all over China.
A video showed people forming a queue several hundred meters long in front of Gongmei Emporium on downtown Beijing's Wangfujing Street to purchase Bing Dwen Dwen toys.
On February 4, when Beijing 2022 officially opened, people spent two or three hours before entering the official Gongmei Emporium store and choosing their goods. Staff prepared snacks for people waiting outside in sub-zero temperatures, and the amount of goods for each customer was imposed limits.
"I came here around 9:30 p.m. last night, and was the first one to buy Bing Dwen Dwen today. I think it is cute and memorable," said a customer named Li on Sunday. "I watched the fireworks near the Bird's Nest Stadium on the night of the opening ceremony. I hope that our athletes can win many medals."
"100 Bing Dwen Dwen plush toys are in stock today, and customers can buy one each," read a notice on the store's door.
On social platforms, many netizens came up with similar questions.
"Where can I buy a Bing Dwen Dwen?"
"Who can resist the temptation of Bing Dwen Dwen?"
"One Bing Dwen Dwen per family" has become a trending topic on China's Twitter-like social platform Weibo.
"Some friends asked me where they could buy Bing Dwen Dwen. It demonstrates people's attention towards the Beijing Winter Olympics, and the achievement of engaging 300 million people in winter sports in China," Zhao Weidong, spokesman of the Beijing Organizing Committee for the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (BOCOG), told a daily briefing on Sunday.
On Alibaba's e-commerce platform Tmall, figures showed that 5,000 Bing Dwen Dwen ornaments were out of stock in 15 minutes on February 4, and over one million visits were recorded one day earlier.
Zhao said that BOCOG has arranged to increase the supply of Bing Dwen Dwen toys to meet surging demand from customers, and has also called for people's attention towards Shuey Rhon Rhon, mascot of the Paralympic Winter Games.
The fervor for Bing Dwen Dwen epitomizes Chinese people's increasing enthusiasm towards winter sports since Beijing was awarded the hosting rights of the 2022 Winter Olympics in 2015.
According to Piao Xuedong, head of BOCOG's Marketing Department, over 5,000 licensed products in 16 categories have been designed and produced over the past four years, and more than 190 licensed merchandise retail stores have opened across China.
Bing Dwen Dwen's appeal is not only confined to Chinese people.
In a video circulating online, Prince Albert II of Monaco received a dough figurine of Bing Dwen Dwen at Beijing's Great Hall of the People, before asking for a second one because he has twins.
"Bing Dwen Dwen is lively, funny, witty, and of course full of positive energy. She has to be part of my collection, but [also] yours, and all the kids across the globe," said Christophe Dubi, Olympic Games Executive Director of the International Olympic Committee at Sunday's press briefing.
At the Beijing Winter Olympics, each medalist receives a Bing Dwen Dwen figurine with golden embroidery.
"The distance between Bing Dwen Dwen and me is an Olympic medal," some netizens commented.
The Chinese duo Fan Suyuan and Ling Zhi offered a set of pins featuring Bing Dwen Dwen to their American counterparts Victoria Persinger and Christopher Plys after their mixed doubles curling competition, and the two pairs took photos together on Saturday.
"The pins are beautiful and so special. We'll remember this forever," said Persinger.
Bing Dwen Dwen is a panda inside an ice shell stylized as a sports helmet, making the animal appear more athletic. A series of colored floating lines around its head resemble tracks on an ice rink, a reference to the National Speed Skating Oval, known as the "Ice Ribbon". The colorful lines are also a nod to the implementation of ultra-fast 5G technology.
Resembling an astronaut in a space suit, Bing Dwen Dwen is designed to be a winter sports expert coming from the future, representing a perfect blend of winter sports and modern technology. The ice shell also leaves space for various future designs.
Insiders believe the Beijing 2022 mascot is a great combination of Chinese culture and the Olympic spirit.
"Hopefully Bing Dwen Dwen can become a classic and leave lasting memories in Olympic history," said Cao Xue, head of the Beijing 2022 mascot design team.