Kugy has been unveiled as the Friuli Venezia Giulia 2023 mascot ©Getty Images

Kugy has been unveiled as the mascot for the Friuli Venezia Giulia 2023 Winter European Youth Olympic Festival (EYOF) at a ceremony in the Piazza Unità d’Italia in Trieste with the region's President Massimiliano Fedriga in attendance.

Kugy, a marmot, was designed by Paolo Venuti and manufactured by soft toy company Trudi.

"The small rodent is one of the symbols of the mountains," said Organising Committee President Maurizio Dünnhofer.

"With its sociable nature, it likes to live in groups, in colonies organised similarly to a family.

"It is a herbivore, feeding on grasses and herbaceous plants, shoots and roots, flowers, fruits and bulbs, from which it obtains the water it needs.

"It is a resilient species, perfectly adapted to the Alpine arc of Friuli Venezia Giulia, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

"It is environmentally friendly, like the event we are organising, and sustainable in many ways."

Kugy is due to feature at all events in the build up to Friuli Venezia Giulia 2023, including the Torch Relay known as the "Road to EYOF 2023".

Fedriga expressed his gratitude to those who campaigned to bring the Festival to his region.

"Friuli Venezia Giulia is an ensemble of different cultures and territories," he said.

"The mountaineer Julius Kugy, who inspired the name of our mascot, is the perfect synthesis of our region, located in the heart of Central Europe.

"A Carinthian father, a Slovenian-speaking mother from Trieste, born in Gorizia, he studied in Trieste and was a great lover and connoisseur of the Julian Alps, which he climbed frequently and opened more than fifty new routes with the help of local guides.

"As a mountaineer, but also as a musician and botanist, we chose him as a reference figure because of his teachings in ethics and civilisation."

The EYOF 2023 Opening Ceremony is also set to take place in the Piazza Unità d’Italia.

The multi-sport event is scheduled for January 21 to 28 next year.