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Plush toys bearing the mascots for the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games are displayed during their official presentation in Saint-Denis, north of Paris, on Nov 14, 2022. [Photo/Agencies]
Only a small number of the mascots for the Paris 2024 Summer Olympics and Paralympics will be made in France due to the country's declining manufacturing capabilities, with the majority of the soft toys to be made in China, French officials said.
Unveiled on Nov 14, the red triangle-shaped mascots, named Phryges, are based on the three-cornered hats that symbolize the French Revolution. The Summer Olympics' Phryge has a friendly smile, blue eyes, a tricolor ribbon and big sneakers, while the Paralympic version features a prosthetic leg.
The mascots are manufactured by French companies Gipsy Toys and Doudou et Compagnie. While they use fabric produced in the French region of Brittany as part of the mascots, the toys will primarily be made in China.
The Paris Olympic Committee said that 8 percent of the mascots would be made in France, with the remainder outsourced to China.
"We're working so that France can have the raw materials and textile factories for making 2 million dolls in a few months, but the fact is that today we cannot do it," said French government spokesman Olivier Veran.
"It's a structural problem due to the fact that for years, France has lost its factories," he told France 2 television.
Veran added that the government was trying hard to relocate French businesses that are producing in China to make sure "we will, tomorrow, be able to produce what we no longer know how to produce today".
Ethic, a business owners' association in France, said the choice was "an insult to all French companies" and that there was still time to produce millions of the mascots at home.
Christophe Bechu, the French minister of ecological transition, said he hoped France could find a better solution amid environmental concerns over manufacturing products overseas.
"We're not going to find ourselves, at a time when we're saying we need local distribution networks and reindustrialization, producing mascots on the other side of the world, especially when we're defending the fight against global warming, which implies promoting what is manufactured nearby," Bechu said.
Climate activists also pointed out the pollution that will be generated by shipping the toys to France, contrary to the French government's pledge to take stronger action to tackle climate change.
Almost 70 percent of all the merchandise for the ongoing FIFA 2022 World Cup in Qatar is made in China's small commodities manufacturing hub of Yiwu, Zhejiang province.
The Paris Olympics will be held in July and August 2024, and the Paralympics in August and September.