Its Paralympic cousin, meanwhile, sports red checks derived from cherry blossoms and possesses the ability, helpfully, to "talk with stones and the wind."

Design B pairs a cartoon hybrid of a "lucky" cat and a fox draped in a red flame-like cloak with a blue lion-dog of the type seen guarding Japanese shrines — the common thread between them big round eyes resembling disco lights.

Olympic Mascot B also "loves to take naps underneath the sunlight," said Japanese organisers, adding that it "gives happy energy to people by touching them with its tail."

The softer appeal of Option C, meanwhile, brings together a fox looking less than overjoyed at being decorated in prehistoric "magatama" beads and a red raccoon looking a little bemused by all of the commotion.

Tokyo organisers will hope to make smooth progress on the mascots to build on recent momentum following a series of public relations disasters.

Last month, Tokyo opened its first new permanent venue for the 2020 Olympics — a welcome boost after plans for the main stadium were torn up by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe two years ago over its $2 billion price tag.

Designs for the official Games emblem were then scrapped amid a plagiarism row.

There was more bad news in October when Olympic organisers admitted that prolonged summer rain had brought high levels of bacteria to a venue earmarked for triathlon and open water swimming.

While Tokyo has taken successful measures to reduce costs, the International Olympic Committee has urged local organisers to try to further cut its current $12 billion Games budget.

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