JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel’s Olympic squad will travel to the London Games without a team mascot this year, a national Olympic committee official said, after twice being forced to ditch ideas it had come up with.
A public outcry on Tuesday against the unveiling of a peanut-shaped baby character in a blue diaper which is the symbol of a local favourite children’s snack called “Bamba” was withdrawn within hours after public uproar grew.
Osem, the makers of the snack paid the Olympic Committee of Israel a reported 100,000 shekels for their much-loved logo to be used but the reaction led the Olympic Committee of Israel to withdraw it.
“It was important for us to ensure that the Olympic team remain in the national concensus and as we saw that there was opposition to this move, we decided together to withdraw the mascot,” Efraim Zinger, the chief executive of Israel’s Olympic committee, told Army Radio.
He added that Osem, in which international food giant Nestle NESN.VX has a 53.8 percent stake, had not withdrawn its funding.
Critics, including Sports Minister Limor Livnat, said corporate sponsorship of the logo was a slur on national pride, but later praised the committee after it heeded the outcry and withdrew the mascot.
Zinger said there was no intention for the mascot to be used on official team clothing or for it to be displayed at the opening ceremony
The Bamba cancellation followed the withdrawal of a previous mascot for Israel’s London 2012 squad after a court ruled against the use of “Shpitzik”, a cactus-shaped character that was chosen by the public in an internet poll.
The court said Shpitzik too closely resembled a doll from a children’s television programme and that the creative rights of the television production company had been violated.
Writing by Ori Lewis, editing by Ed Osmond