Schoolchildren will ultimately select the Tokyo 2020 mascots ©Tokyo 2020

The competition to design the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic mascots has received 2,042 entries, organisers have announced. 

There were 1,774 designs from individuals and 268 group entries, with a deadline to enter passing yesterday after the process opened on August 2.

Members of the Tokyo 2020 mascot review panel will now whittle down the entries to a final shortlist by December, before elementary schoolchildren from across Japan make the final choice.

The pupils will vote from the shortlist and the design with the largest number of votes is scheduled to be announced as the winner in February. 

Although the general public have been able to enter the design contest, the names will be picked by creative professionals. 

"We received a total of 2,042 applications, and I feel the weight of expectation from all those who submitted entries," said Ryohei Miyata, who is chairing the mascot panel. 

"I look forward to the day when we can meet the mascots of the Tokyo 2020 Games, which we believe will help raise everyone's spirits. 

"I will make sure that we judge fairly and reflect the enthusiasm of the entrants."

Vinicius was the mascot of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games ©Getty Images
Vinicius was the mascot of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games ©Getty Images

Tokyo 2020 are keen to avoid the controversy which clouded the selection of its logo in the mascot process.

Organisers had to scrap their original logo design after plagiarism allegations from the designer of the Théâtre de Liège emblem in Belgium. 

Entrants had to follow a list of strict criteria when submitting their mascot designs. 

Mascots are a popular element of modern Japanese culture and become a recognisable part of any Olympic Games of major sporting event.

However, there was no Olympic mascot at the Tokyo 1964 Games as the concept had not yet been created. 

Schuss, a skier, was introduced for the Winter Olympics in Grenoble two years later. 

Vinicius and Tom, representing Brazil's animal and plant life, were the Olympic and Paralympic mascots at Rio 2016.