Why did Olympic medalists receive ‘teddy bears?’

After snowboarder Red Gerard won gold and got the United States its first medal in PyeongChang, social media lit up with congratulations, well wishes…and some unexpected confusion.

That’s because Red, along with the silver and bronze medalists, were handed ‘bears’ instead of medals during a ceremony after the snowboard slopestyle finals.

Silver medalist Max Parrot of Canada, gold medalist Red Gerard of the United States and bronze medalist Mark McMorris of Canada pose during the victory ceremony for the Snowboard Men’s Slopestyle Final of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games.

Many on Twitter pointed out the humor in snowboarders winning what appeared to be teddy bears.

Anyone else confused as to why the Olympic athletes are getting teddy bears instead of medals? #Snowboard#WinterGames#Olympics2018

— Tanya Turner (@Tanya_turner18) February 11, 2018

is anyone going to talk about how the olympic athletes are getting teddy bears instead of medals

— the fake slim shady (@j111201) February 11, 2018

Sorry were the olympic medalists just awarded teddy bears

— Sara Noble (@sarnobes) February 11, 2018

did…. did anyone else see the mens snowboarding winners get little teddy bears instead of medals…

— im eman (@h0ejabi) February 11, 2018

So, what’s the deal with the ‘bears’?

The official website for the Olympics explains it all. Turns out it’s a replacement for the flowers that are traditionally handed out.

And what looked like a ‘teddy bear’ is actually a doll of the PyeongChang games mascot Soohorang…who is a white tiger…not even a bear!

During the Rio games organizers also scrapped traditional flowers instead handing out small sculptures of the Rio Olympics logo.

According to the Olympics website, each medalist will also be getting a wooden gift that shows “mountain scenes of PyeongChang and characters from the Korean Hangul alphabet spelling out “PyeongChang 2018” in the official Games motif.”

It further explains that medal winners are recognized at the venue right after the competitions with a victory ceremony, and then again at the PyeongChang Medal Plaza in the evening. So Red Gerard, and the other snowboard medalists will still get their medals, just later on in the day.


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