Lesik the baby fox was unveiled as the mascot for the Minsk 2019 European Games during a special ceremony in the Belarusian capital in November 2018.
Story behind Lesik
Lesik represents friendship, development, harmony, discipline, determination, cheerfulness, invincibility and vigour.
As the famous novella by French writer Antoine de Saint-Exupéry goes, "The Little Prince" came to earth and befriended a little fox, who taught him about many things, including the meaning of friendship.
The story of the Minsk 2019 mascot begins when the Little Prince returned home, leaving earth and Lesik behind.
Having made such a good friend in the Prince, Lesik quickly missed him and all he could think about was finding new friends.
He walked all over his neighbourhood in search of friends, helping his legs grow extremely strong.
He also listened very hard in the hope he could hear potential friends, making his ears grow large.
One day, he heard the story of a legendary fern flower called the Paparats Kvetka that could make all his dreams come true, but he would have to travel to Belarus to find it.
Belarus was far away from Lesik’s home, but he decided that if he was to find true friendship again, he would have to make the journey.
Thanks to his fitness tracker, Lesik knows it took a million steps to reach Belarus, but it was worth it.
Come to the Games
Lesik now has many friends and wants to make even more.
He is inviting everyone around the world to visit him in Belarus and to see the Paparats Kvetka in person.
There is no better time to do so than in 2019, the year of the second European Games in Minsk.
Lesik is pretty easy to spot with his red hat, white and green shirt, black shorts, blue shoes and yellow fur.
The hat represents vigour, while the shirt represents harmony, the shorts represent discipline and determination, the shoes represent invincibility and the fur represents cheerfulness.
The colours of the items feature in the Paparats Kvetka design on the Minsk 2019 logo.
Lesik also wears a cap saying 2019 will be the brightest year of his life and the brightest year for sports in Europe.
The unveiling ceremony was attended by officials from Minsk 2019, the Belarusian branch of UNICEF and children from the Belarusian Association of Assistance for Children and Young People with Disabilities.
Also present were Olympic canoe sprint champion Aliaksandr Bahdanovich, a Star Ambassador of Minsk 2019, and Rashed Mustafa Sarwar, a UNICEF representative in Belarus.
Local bands Lifesound and Aura, as well as Daniel Yastremsky, who represented Belarus at the 2018 Junior Eurovision Song Contest, performed for the guests.
"The mascot that has been just presented here is the result of collaboration of a Belarusian designer and MEGOC (Minsk European Games Organising Committee)," Anatol Kotov, the deputy chief executive of Minsk 2019, said at the time.
"In our opinion, Lesik will fit perfectly into the overall concept of a grand sporting event to be held next summer.
"We’re planning plenty of promotional activities with the mascot.
"Let this character bring his spark to the long-awaited event.
"And we want the little fox to find friends not only in Belarus, but throughout the world."
Rashed Mustafa Sarwar, a representative of UNICEF in Belarus, added: "A bright energetic character - this is exactly how the mascot of a major sporting event should be.
"One of the colors of our organisation is the same as the one of Lesik is.
"I think, therefore, our relationship with the Games will become even stronger.
"I have no doubt the children will like the mascot and help us to commit the upcoming event to our memory for a long time.”
An Instagram account for Lesik has been set up and can be viewed here.
A two-metre ice sculpture of Lesik and the Minsk 2019 logo has been unveiled in the Belarusian capital.
The unveiling of the sculpture at the Dreamland Amusement Park was held alongside a winter festival for European Games staff and volunteers, as well as park visitors.
Those attending the festival were divided into teams to compete in street games such as leapfrog, limbo and tug-of-war.