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Tokyo 2020 Olympic, Paralympic mascots futuristic digital characters

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TOKYO (AP) — The schoolchildren have had their say: A pair of futuristic digital characters will be the mascots for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics.

Organizers unveiled the winning designs at a school in Tokyo on Wednesday.

A total of 205,755 classes at 16,769 elementary schools took part in selecting three short-listed designs, with their classes casting a single vote.

The winning pair, clad in the “ichimatsu” checkered pattern of the Games’ official logo, received 109,041 votes.

“The Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games finally have their mascots,” said Ryohei Miyata, head of the mascot selection panel. “This means a lot, especially in Japan. I cannot wait to see these two characters coming to life in the stadiums, on the streets and on TV.”

Organizers say the mascots combine tradition with innovation.

Their names will be decided by copywriters and other professionals and announced in July or August.

The selection process involving schoolchildren was introduced to get students enthusiastic about the games while also ensuring transparency.

The original official logo was hit with plagiarism allegations and scrapped.

The designer of the winning mascots is Ryo Taniguchi, who graduated as an art major from Cabrillo College in California, and is currently active as a character designer/illustrator. His work has been featured by companies and at exhibitions in Japan.

The Tokyo Olympics are scheduled for July 24-Aug. 9, 2020.

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Chinese figure skating judges banned for biased Olympic scoring

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Two Chinese figure skating judges were suspended by the International Skating Union for biased judging at the PyeongChang Olympics.

Chen Weiguang and Huang Feng had “preferential marking” for top Chinese skaters Jin Boyang (fourth place in PyeongChang) and the silver medalist pairs’ team of Sui Wenjing and Han Cong, respectively, according to the ISU.

Chen was banned two years and excluded from the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. Huang got a one-year ban.

Chen awarded her highest grades of execution scores of the men’s competition to Jin, as well as her second-highest program components scores, trailing only gold medalist Yuzuru Hanyu. Both sets of scores, in both the short and long programs, were out of line with the other eight judges.

“There is evidence of preference for the Chinese skater and prejudice against his strongest competitors,” an ISU report read. “Her marks were completely unrealistic.”

The pairs’ judge Huang “obviously favored his pair also vis-à-vis the other top candidates for the Olympic gold medal,” the ISU said in a report, referencing inflated scores for Sui and Han and lower scores for gold and bronze medalists Aljona Savchenko and Bruno Massot of Germany and Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford of Canada.

Huang was warned one month before the Olympics by the ISU for biased judging at the December 2017 Grand Prix Final pairs’ event.

Both suspensions are subject to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

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Javier Fernandez to skip Grand Prix, still compete next season

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Javier Fernandez, who in PyeongChang became the first Spanish Olympic figure skating medalist, will skip the fall Grand Prix series but return for January’s European Championships, which could be his final competition.

Europeans will be Fernandez’s focus for the season, his agent said Tuesday.

Fernandez, 26, added an Olympic bronze medal to his 2015 and 2016 World titles. He has said that his third Olympics in PyeongChang would be his last. But Fernandez did not say he would retire after the Winter Games, though he did skip the world championships in March.

Fernandez now plans to compete in his 13th straight European Championships in Minsk in January. He won the last six titles. It’s unknown if he will continue on to the world championships in Saitama, Japan, in March.

In Fernandez’s absence, the top male singles skaters in the fall Grand Prix season should be double Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu, PyeongChang silver medalist Shoma Uno and American Nathan Chen, who was fifth at the Olympics after a disastrous short program but ran away with March’s world title by the largest margin in history.

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