The process to select mascots for Milan Cortina 2026 is underway ©Getty Images

Schools from all 20 Italian regions have taken part in a competition to design the Milan Cortina 2026 mascots, organisers say, with a 10 pairs on a shortlist to reach the final vote.

Milan Cortina 2026 reports that it received approximately 1,600 ideas in a contest which was launched in January and is being run alongside Italy's Ministry of Education.

The mascot initiative - open to female students, as well as those of all genders in primary school and lower secondary school - is viewed as a means of promoting their involvement in the Games.

At least one of the selected mascot designs will come from the student body, organisers promise.

Ten mascot couples have been selected to advance to the next stage of the evaluation, which will whittle the number down to two pairs.

Those pairs will be developed by a creative team and ultimately put to a public vote.

One mascot is expected to be designated for the Olympics and one the Paralympics.  

Mascots are an important part of an Olympic and Paralympic Games' visual identity ©Getty Images
Mascots are an important part of an Olympic and Paralympic Games' visual identity ©Getty Images

A public vote has already been used to determine the Milan Cortina 2026 anthem and logo.

Fino all'alba - translated to "Until the dawn" - has been chosen as Milan Cortina 2026's official anthem.

The "Futura" logo, which features the numbers two and six in a single trace, was chosen to be the Games' logo.

Milan Cortina 2026 President Giovanni Malagò said he was "deeply moved" by the level of interest in the mascot competition and expressed thanks for the Ministry of Education for the assistance in running it.

The next edition of the Winter Olympics is scheduled to run from February 6 to 26 in 2026, with the Paralympics set to follow from March 6 to 15.