Where is Winnie the Pooh?


Janette Fu, Editor

Two-time Olympic champion Japanese figure skater Yuzuru Hanyu usually has Winnie-the-Pooh stuffed animals thrown onto the ice rink after every competition. However, what happened to this during the 2022 Beijing Olympics? 

The Winnie-the-Pooh tradition started when fans noticed Hanyu’s tissue box, which was Pooh themed, and this led them to gift and throw matching stuffed animals. Because of the sheer amount of bears that are thrown, Hanyu can’t keep them all, so he donates all the stuffed animals to the local charities and organizations. 

During this year’s Beijing Olympics, the famous stuffed animals weren’t seen. It may be this way because of covid restrictions and the precautions taken to limit the number of spectators allowed in the Beijing Capital Stadium. 

Yet, there’s speculation that those aren’t the only reasons. In 2013, a meme of China’s President Xi Jingping walking with the U.S. President Barack Obama blew up on Weibo, a Twitter-like platform in China. The meme compared Xi Jingping and Barack Obama to Winnie-the-Pooh and Tiger, respectively. That led to heavy censorship on the Disney bear, and China even blocked the release of Christopher Robin in China. 

In 2014, Xi Jingping was compared to Winnie-the-Pooh again when he met up with Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe, who was compared to the pessimistic donkey Eeyore, which led to further censorship. 

Regardless of why the Disney bear wasn’t seen with Hanyu at the 2022 Beijing Olympics, it was most likely a relief for the Chinese government that the bears were nowhere to be seen.