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Why are wrestling coaches throwing stuffed mascots on the mat in Rio?

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Wrestling - Olympics: Day 9 Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images

If you’ve watched any Greco-Roman wrestling at the Rio Olympics you might have come across a strange phenomenon. Sometimes a coach will stand up, approach the mat and throw a stuffed mascot into the ring — seemingly for no reason. However, there is a critical role these stuffed animals play.

When a coach feels a referee has made a wrong decision they will typically throw a challenge flag into the ring. This signals that the coach wants the decision overturned, or at least sent to a jury of appeal for review. This has been the system for dozens, if not hundreds of years.

In Rio, the Olympics wanted to do things a little different and make things more fun for viewers. The challenge flags were replaced with plush toys of Vinicius, the mascot for the Rio Olympics. Now when coaches was to challenge they have to throw a stuffed animal into the ring in order for officials to review a decision.

It’s a change that is bewildering some, and amusing everyone.

This needs to continue in every Olympics.