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© Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee’s press service

Sochi mascot angers Misha creator

by Andy Potts at 28/02/2011 11:46

 

The polar bear chosen as one of the Sochi Olympic mascots has left artist Viktor Chizhikov with a sore head.

Chizhikov created the iconic Misha, symbol of the Moscow 1980 summer games, and claims that the snowy cousin planned for 2014 is nothing more than a crude copy of his design, RIA Novosti reported.

A public vote conducted by Channel 1 TV selected the polar bear as the second mascot for the games, along with a white rabbit and a snow-boarding leopard – said to be Vladimir Putin’s personal favourite.

But that left Chizhikov furious, alleging plagiarism in an interview with R-Sport agency.

 

Amateurish

Chizhikov claims the Sochi bear is a copy of his much-loved Misha

© RIA Novosti. / Vladimir Fedorenko

Chizhikov claims the Sochi bear is a copy of his much-loved Misha

“They pulled around all the details of my bear,” he complained. The eyes are rounded the same way, the nose is a little altered and the smile has the same characteristics.”

And he complained that the three winning mascots were “amateurish” and warned that the images were not up to the task of representing the games and being an ambassador for Russia.

“It is not just a figurine on a table. My bear was part of 90 per cent of the publicity for the Moscow Olympics,” he said. “That is a huge burden and only a good, strong image can withstand it.”

 

Putin’s appeal

High-level support helped the snow leopard top the TV poll

© Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee’s press service

High-level support helped the snow leopard top the TV poll

Sociologists were surprised that the snow leopard got the biggest share of the vote, taking 28 per cent of the total poll, ahead of the polar bear (18 per cent) and the bunny (16).

Internet surveys in the run-up to the televised extravaganza had the big cat firmly among the also-rans, while a similar footballing leopard chosen for last summer’s World Cup in South Africa had not been regarded as a success.

But a personal appeal from Prime Minister Putin, as part of the TV show, seemingly swung the vote.

Putin spoke of how the animal was strong, powerful, fast and beautiful, and highlighted efforts to bring the creature back from the brink of extinction with breeding programmes in the Caucasus.

 

Improbable outcome

However, Mikhail Dymshits, CEO of consultants Dymshits and Partners, believes that the chances of the leopard beating more popular animals like the polar bear are slim.

“In political voting online surveys often yield distortions in comparison with the actual vote, but when it comes to less important things internet responses generally remain accurate,” he told Vedomosti.

Others complained that most of the voting options were “mediocre”, added sports.ru’s Dmitry Navosha, but he agreed that they weren’t too bad compared with other Olympic mascots.

 

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