"Krakusek" the dragon and “Sandra” the salamander have been chosen as the official mascots for the European Games Kraków-Małopolska 2023. On Friday 14 October it was announced that "Krakusek" the dragon would be the only mascot for the Games, however, after a period of deliberation, the Organising Committee jury agreed that the outstanding illustration of the salamander should join the dragon as the official mascots for the Games.
The initiative, which received over 2,400 entries, was open to young people aged 5-15 across the continent. The exceptional dragon design by 15-year-old Katarzyna Biśta from Libiąż, Poland, perfectly encapsulates the local culture and history of Kraków. Complimenting Krakusek, the creation of the black and gold salamander by 10-year-old Gloria Goryl from Wojnicz, Poland, brilliantly portrays a real creature that calls south Poland its home.
Katarzyna’s illustration won a popular vote on Facebook after reaching the final shortlist featuring the top three designs, which included the salamander. “Krakusek” and “Sandra” will now be reimagined by graphic designers and will become a prominent presence in the build-up to and during the 3 rd edition of the European Games.
The two mascots, one male and one female, will strengthen the message behind the slogan of the Games “We are unity” and will help to promote the importance of gender equality in society. The dragon and the salamander will unite the worlds of mythology and reality and will bring people from different backgrounds together, in a similar way to sport.
“The slogan of the Games is "We are unity". So, we decided that our dragon would need some company,” said Marcin Nowak, President of the European Games 2023 Organising Committee. “In the past, I have participated in many large-scale sports events where there have been two or even three mascots, and this solution has always worked well. The mascots can interact with each other, and I have the impression that if there are more of them, it will be easier to attract a wider audience,” he added.
Dragons hold a special place in the hearts of the people in Kraków, since the Wawel dragon is a symbol of the city. Stories about the legend of the beast that inhabited the cave under the royal castle on the Wawel Hill was passed down from generation to generation, which included anecdotes of the fearsome dragon terrorising the city established by King Krak.
In addition to being the creative force behind the key symbols of this major sporting event, Katarzyna and Gloria will now be invited to both the Opening and Closing Ceremonies with their families, where they will enjoy VIP treatment at the Municipal Stadium in Krakow. They will also receive a personalised mascot inspired by their designs and a package of official European Games 2023 merchandise.
The European Games takes place from 21 June – 2 July 2023, where the continent’s elite level athletes will compete in 25 sports.