Fans brave cold to buy ice panda souvenirs as Olympic fever grips nation

By Alvaro Alfaro

Beijing, Feb 10 (EFE).- The Beijing 2022 mascot, a stuffed panda toy dressed in a plastic ice suit, has had fans braving gelid winter temperatures with hundreds waiting in line to buy the coveted bear.

Buyers formed 300 meter-long queues at the official store of the Games on the bustling Wangfujing pedestrian street in downtown Beijing.

The mascot has been so popular there is a 30-day waiting period to have Bing Dwen Dwen, which roughly translates as “robust, lively ice child”, delivered to customers’ homes.

On some e-commerce platforms, such as Tmall, buyers can only purchase two pandas apiece while those eager to hold the toy immediately brave hours-long queues in gelid conditions to get hold of one.

In second-hand shops, the mascot is already retailing at triple its original price, which has prompted consumer watchdogs in some provinces suggesting people should keep a “cool head” and stick to “rational consumption”.

“Numerous acquaintances have contacted me in the hope that I can get them a Bing Dwen Dwen from within the Olympic bubble,” Olympic staffer Eduardo, who prefers not to use his real name, tells Efe.

To meet growing demand, the companies that produce the official 2022 merchandise — 29 in total — have returned to work earlier than expected after the Lunar New Year break.

Some, like Yuanlong Yatu, have said sales since February 4, the opening day of the Olympics, have far exceeded those of the previous two years.

Bing Dwen Dwen fever reached the stock market on Monday when Yuanlong Yatu shares soared so quickly that an extraordinary measure was issued to restrict its increase to no more than 10% in one day.EFE


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