The upcoming Beijing Olympics is more than just a point of pride for China - it's such an important part of the national consciousness that nearly 3,500 children have been named for the event, a newspaper reported Sunday.

Most of the 3,491 people with the name "Aoyun," meaning Olympics, were born around the year 2000, as Beijing was bidding to host the 2008 Summer Games, the Beijing Daily reported, citing information from China's national identity card database.

The vast majority of people named Aoyun are male, the newspaper said. Only six live in Beijing. The report didn't say where the others live.

Names related to the Olympics don't just stop with "Olympics." More than 4,000 Chinese share their names with the Beijing Games mascots, the "Five Friendlies."

Five Friendlies

The names are Bei Bei (880 people), Jing Jing (1,240), Huan Huan (1,063), Ying Ying (624) and Ni Ni (642). When put together, the phrase translates to "Beijing welcomes you!"

Chinese have increasingly turned to unique names as a way to express a child's individuality.

In a country with a population of 1.3 billion, 87 percent share the same 129 family names. That's why 5,598 people have the same name as basketball player Yao Ming and 18,462 share a moniker with star hurdler Liu Xiang, according to the Beijing Daily report.

Parents have turned to unusual combinations of letters, numbers and symbols when choosing their child's name, Li Yuming, deputy director of the National Language Commission, told the Xinhua News Agency in an August interview.

At least one couple wanted to call their child "1A," he said, while others use the e-mail address symbol (at), which in Chinese is pronounced "Aita," meaning "love him."