Olympics mascot merchandising is a multi-million dollar business, but since the mascots for the Beijing Olympics were announced nearly three years ago they have met with mixed reviews. A nationwide survey conducted by Nielsen Co. showed that only 60% of Chinese liked the Fuwa characters.
According to this article in the Wall Street Journal, even their creator, folk artist Han Meilin, seems to want no part of the Fuwa as they continue to build up negative publicity and become the center of an increasing number of spoofs.
Beijing residents created their own Fuwa — a duck, a dragonfly and a taxi — whose names spell out “bastard” in Beijing slang. Something similar happened during the Sydney Games in 2000, when the three official mascots were overshadowed unofficially by “Fatso, the Fat-Arsed Wombat,” created by a local TV station.
In recent months Chinese have also begun circulating the idea of a Fuwa curse, with each character representing a national disaster. AngryChineseBlogger gives a full account of “The Five Fuwa of the Apocalypse” in this article. Since the article was written there has been no shortage of flooding in Southern China which have since been pinned onto Beibei.
Some more optimistic Chinese, believe that with all five of the bad omens fulfilled, the Olympics will at least be able to take place without any more catastrophes.