Teenagers have mixed opinions of the East Asian Games' fiery siblings Dony and Ami, writes YP junior reporter Elson Tong
The mascots for this year's East Asian Games are Dony and Ami, a pair of fire-topped, lion-like siblings. But just how inspiring are they to the everyday teenager?
Siobhan O'Connor, 11, is a fan of the mascots.
'If I were an athlete, the mascots would inspire me to play fairly,' she says. 'That's because they look friendly and that would remind me not to play too rough.'
On the other hand, Esther Hong, 16, does not care for them much.
'They look like squid rather than lions and flames,' she complains, adding: 'They aren't as chic or smart as the ones of the Beijing Olympics.'
She says they have not attracted her to the Games and maintains she thinks Hong Kong could have done better.
While Angus Yuen, 13, agrees the mascots have 'generated hype', he also cannot help but make comparisons with the Beijing Olympics. 'There are too few of them - I wanted to see a greater number of mascots, like in Beijing,' he says.
Meanwhile, if sales are anything to judge by, Hong Kong's attempt to come up with inspiration mascots for this year's Games has been nothing short of a flop. According to a shop assistant at a Lok Fu mall, sales of this year's East Asian Games mascots have only been about 10 per cent of the Beijing Olympics' mascots.
He says it is possible there's something about the design of the mascot that has not captured Hongkongers' imagination. But he also blames the East Asian Games organisers for 'not promoting the mascots enough'.
The mascot's co-designer David Leung agrees there has been insufficient promotion. Until recently, the duo appeared in television advertisements infrequently, he says, and he sees room for development in the variety of souvenirs and promotional items.
He is also frustrated by changes made by East Asian Games organisers to the mascots' costumes, and says he would have liked to have seen them dressed closer to the original design.
While acknowledging that it is important to 'accept different comments and criticisms', Leung defends the mascots against their critics. The designer says anyone who thinks Dony and Ami look like squid is insufficiently aware of their background as Hongkongers. He says both the lion and the flames have specific cultural references. Their white complexion, he explains, is actually a 'bright' representation of the 'spirit of Hong Kong people'.
Leung adds that the theme of fire is intended to represent the resilience of Hongkongers in times of adversity such as the 1997 financial crisis and Sars. The lions are also inspired by Kowloon's Lion Rock, perhaps the city's most famous natural landmark.
Dev Dillon, a member of the Hong Kong Men's Hockey Squad for the Games, says people are making heavy weather of a job well done, and he probably speaks for more than just himself in his view of Dony and Ami.
'I mean, they're cute. And most people in Hong Kong know they are for the East Asian Games. So I guess that's job done, right?'
This article was written by Elson Tong, Junior Reporter at the Young Post Reporters' Club.
Video prepared by Imagi and courtesy of 2009 EAG