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Chinese Olympics Fans Outraged After Panda Mascot Turns Out To Have Voice Of A 'Middle-Aged Man'

Chinese Olympics Fans Outraged After Panda Mascot Turns Out To Have Voice Of A 'Middle-Aged Man'
VCG/VCG via Getty Images

Upon first glance, one would imagine a cute, anthropomorphic animal mascot would have a voice that is relatively high in pitch.

Meet the Beijing Winter Olympics mascot, Bing Dwen Dwen–whose namesake translates to "ice child."

The orotund, fluffy character is affectionately described as a "roly-poly space panda."

Cute, right?

However, based on reactions on Chinese social media, this mascot should only be seen and not heard.

The seemingly affable character–with eyes expressing a child-like sense of wonder–was brutally slammed online in China after the mascot was heard speaking during a Livestream interview with a voice resembling that of a middle-aged man.

Chinese social media users were dumbfounded to hear the gruff, low register voice "with a northeastern accent" that was a stark contrast from the one they initially heard in their heads.

You can hear Bing Dwen Dwen's voice here in the interview by state broadcaster China Central Television with Chinese freestyle skier Yang Shuorui.

Disillusioned Chinese audiences took to Weibo–the country's version of Twitter–to express their dismay over Bing Dwen Dwen's voice.

"This is the end of my fantasy. The adult world has no room for fairy tales," wrote Weibo user, LingYun ShiHan.

Another Weibo user by the ID Great-Annie wrote:

"I don't find Bing Dwen Dwen cute anymore. It's an old man! I'm saving my money."

In response to the backlash, China's censors pulled the interview clip from the internet and removed the hashtag, "Bing Dwen Dwen has spoken," from Weibo that linked to negative comments, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The media outlet noted that after Chinese media "moved in to contain the damage," they denounced the controversial mascot seen in the Livestream interview.

They called the speaking panda from the footage an imposter and reshared a quote from a Beijing Olympics organizing committee legal expert who confirmed Bing Dwen Dwen was not supposed to speak and was limited to making "babbling noises."

The article also mentioned that, according to legal expert Wu Yujia, Bing Dwen Dwen was "contractually obligated under a deal with the International Olympic Commission to be gender-neutral and refrain from speaking."

In fact, the mascot was originally conceived as a character that didn't have a voice at all.

The Beijing Games' art director Lin Chunzhen said in a February 13 interview with ShanghaiEye:

"At the beginning of the process when we designed this auspicious mascot, we strictly obeyed the rule that the mascot character should not have a speaking voice."
"It can make squeaky noises, but it can't speak."