Nathan Chen

Why Nathan Chen Received a Panda Mascot, and Not His Gold Medal, After Figure Skating Win

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Like most of the champions in the 2022 Beijing Olympics, United States figure skater Nathan Chen was handed a stuffed animal named Bing Dwen Dwen, the chubby panda mascot of the Games.

The tradition may have left fans with a simple question: where are the medals?

Don't fret, Olympics fans. Chen will receive his gold medal at a special ceremony at the medal plaza in Beijing on Friday, complete with "The Star-Spangled Banner" and all the pagentry that should rightfully come with winning the top prize in the Games.

Nathan Chen won gold in the men’s single figure skating competition on Wednesday.

The system introduced in 1988 at the Calgary Games, according to the Associated Press.

Immediately after competition, the winning athletes in Beijing receive a plush toy panda, stuffed inside a plastic shell that is meant to represent ice. Bing, in fact, means ice in Chinese. The toy is also adorned with a golden wreath.

A similar ritual unfolded at the Pyeongchang Games four years ago. There, immediately after winning gold, silver or bronze, medalists got Soohorang, a striped white tiger that served as the mascot for those Games.

The tradition of giving a mascot to the winners has existed for more than a decade at the Youth Olympics.

The AP and NBC Chicago contributed to this story
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