March 17th at 8 p.m. local time marks the start of the 100-day countdown to the Chengdu 2021 FISU World University Games, and ushers in the arrival of the giant panda mascot, another sport-related Chinese figure after Bing Dwen Dwen of the recent 2022 Winter Games in Beijing.
Unlike the ice-themed Bing Dwen Dwen, this World University Games’ mascot Rongbao incorporates fire elements in the design of its ears, eyes and tail, while facial structure takes into account traditional Chinese aesthetics, as well as the masks of Sichuan opera, a heritage of the host city, according to the Executive Committee of 2021 FISU WUG.
The sponsor indicates that this design represents both the youthful vim and vigor of university students, and the hospitable and passionate characteristics of Chengdu folks, as well as the energy associated with this summer sport event.
As the city located closest to the giant panda’s core habitat and the world’s one and only metropolis where both captive-bred and wild pandas can be found, Chengdu’s giant panda resources are unrivaled. The archetype of the mascot Rongbao is inspired by giant panda Zhi Ma at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding.
In 2021, there were 223 giant pandas at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, and 73 other wild pandas live in peace inside the Giant Panda National Park, which is dedicated to preserving biodiversity.
For years, the “city of panda” has lived harmoniously with the giant panda and mother nature, and its ecological environment has improved by leaps and bounds. The Giant Panda National Park, Tianfu Greenway with a planned total mileage of 16,930km, City Loop Eco Park and other major ecological endeavors continue to make progress. In addition, 43,600mu of giant panda habitat has been restored and protected, and the goal is to complete the restoration of 300,000mu by 2025.
The giant panda and Chengdu are destined to cross paths in more ways than one. At the top of the city’s landmark Chengdu IFS is a wall-climbing giant panda known as “I Am Here”. With a height of 15m and composed of nearly 4,000 pieces of triangular components, it is an installation art designed and created by American artist Lawrence Argent in 2013, and one of the beacons through which foreign visitors first come to know of Chengdu.
At Dujiangyan of Chengdu, another massive selfie-friendly giant panda has also garnered quite some attention. Sitting w/ legs-crossed in a selfie pose, it is the fruit of a collaboration between the world’s largest public arts company UAP and Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman. The designer explained that the look of a giant panda holding a phone to take a selfie and its leisurely posture are meant to convey a local attitude in an artistic manner.
Leisure and fashion are two well-known and long-standing labels of the Chengdu lifestyle, and as the 31st Summer World University Games draw near, another lifestyle has gradually climbed its way to the forefront.
A myriad of young and specialized sport consumption scenarios have emerged. A plethora of urban parks, outdoor camp sites, community exercise areas, training bases can be found throughout the city. Professional sport venues such as The Peak Dry Skiing Slope is not only a destination for regular winter sport enthusiasts, but also a training site for Olympic gold medalists like Eileen Gu. The sophistication and international standards of the 49 newly constructed and renovated venues for this year’s World University Games are worth the waiting.
From Bing Dwen Dwen to Rongbao, worldwide attention follows the “relay” between the two giant panda mascots toward the 31st Summer World University Games Chengdu, which is scheduled to kick off on June 26th.
Chengdu is slated to become Chinese mainland’s third “World University Games city” after Beijing and Shenzhen, an achievement with long-term significance.
Source: Executive Committee of 2021 FISU WUG