Rare mammal named as mascot for 31st SEA Games

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Sao la (centre) will be the official mascot of the 31st SEA Games and 11th Para Games in Việt Nam in 2021. The SEA Games logo (left) and Para Games logo were revealed in Hà Nội on November 19.

HÀ NỘI — A rare mammal known as the sao la in Việt Nam had been chosen as the mascot for the 31st Southeast Asian Games mascot, according to the Việt Nam Sports Administration.

The animal, also known as the Vũ Quang ox, spindlehorn or Asian bicorn (Pseudoryx nghetinhensis), is a forest-dwelling bovine found only in the Trường Sơn Mountain Range stretching across Việt Nam and Laos.

The species was defined following the discovery of its remains in 1992 in Vũ Quang Nature Reserve.

Sao la by painter Lê Xuân Khôi beat more than 550 other entries over a two-year contest.

"The mascot is a rare animal in Việt Nam which is smart and cute. It is a clear symbol for both formal ceremonies and a sporting festival," said Lê Huy Tiếp, one of the judges.

"I've been intrigued by the sao la since it was first known to the world in 1992, and now I have a chance to express my love for it," said Hà Nội-based Khôi.

"It is also a way to introduce the sao la to our international friends as well as protect the animal from extinction. I believe the sao la will be talked about a lot in the year to come," he said.

The official logo for the Games is a work by Hoàng Xuân Hiếu, an art lecturer from Huế.

The logo is a combination of five fingers holding the 10-circle chain Southeast Asian Games Federation logo, shaping an image of a dove, which is a symbol of peace.

"I created the logo with pride. There are short and long fingers in a hand. But at the SEA Games there are no differences between athletes. They will all compete for their nation's success," said Hiếu, who overcame nearly 1,000 other participants.

The mascot will also be used for the 11th Para Games.

Hiếu designed the logo for the Para Games using the same shape, but the emblem of the Southeast Asian Games Federation is replaced by that of the Southeast Asian Para Sports Federation.

The organisers also reveal 'For a Stronger Southeast Asia' as the slogan for the competitions.

The official song will be announced on November 21 as the one-year countdown to the SEA Games starts in Hà Nội.

Việt Nam's second Games will see the participation of thousands of athletes from all 11 countries. They will compete for medals in 36 sports from November 21-December 2 in the capital city and surrounding localities.

Meanwhile, the 11th Para Games are set to take place from December 14-21 with 14 sports. - VNS

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