Support strong to bring back 1980 Soviet mascot for the 2014 Olympics

From Wikinews, the free news source you can write!
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Saturday, September 29, 2007 File:Misza 1980.jpg

Misha the Bear remains popular among Russians.
Image: Radomil..
(Image missing from Commons: image; log)

For the first time after the fall of the iron curtain Russia will host the Olympic Games – in 2014 the Winter Olympics will take place in Sochi, a Black Sea resort town. The games are considered a matter of national prestige and generate more media attention than the recent changes in Russian government (Russia’s Putin recently installed the new prime-minister, who, incidentally, also became the chair of the Russian Olympic committee.)

As Russia takes enormous efforts to prepare for the Olympics and build a modern sport infrastructure from scratch, the Russian public is more concerned with the mascot for the upcoming games. When Moscow hosted the Summer Olympics in the 1980, the mascot for the Moscow Games was Misha the Bear, developed by children’s book illustrator Victor Chizhikov. Misha instantly became a graphic-design hit, especially in the Soviet bloc. Olympic posters were snatched up and t-shirts were fought over. And as Sochi is set to become the new Olympic city, Russians are keen to see the old bear return.

There is a long way to the Sochi Olympics, but the Bear is already coming back from retirement. Russia! magazine, an English-language publication distributed in the US and the UK, has commissioned the most prominent designers and artists to do their own renditions of the famed mascot. “The Olympic Bear turns any Russian between the ages of 25 and 50 to quivering jelly. Our artistic compatriots were happy to whip the old bear into shape for 21st century use” – says Ilya Merenzon, the magazine’s publisher. “And the readers’ response was overwhelming. As soon as the new issue arrived at the stores, we constantly get emails requesting the Bear t-shirts. The animal is regaining his popularity”. – adds Merenzon.

It has not been decided, however, on the Sochi Games mascot. Another option is Cheburashka, a famous Russian cartoon character with big ears and humble smile. Cheburashka was the mascot for the Russian Olympic team in Turin and is one of the best-selling children’s toys in former USSR countries and, surprisingly, Japan, where it is known as “Chebu”.