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Controversy Greets News of 2014 Sochi Olympics Mascots

28. February 2011 by Christy 0 Comments

After a televised public vote on Saturday, Russia announced that a cute and cuddly hare, a polar bear, and a snowboarding leopard will serve as mascots for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

"For the first time in the history of the Olympic Movement, the whole country was involved in choosing the mascots," Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee president Dmitry Chernyshenko said in a release. "The mascots are the choice of the whole our country and will remain in the history of the Olympic movement."

However, not everyone approved of the new mascot choices. Some Russians noted that votes for the snowboarding leopard skyrocketed after Vladimir Putin declared it his favorite, leading to speculation that the telephone voting system was rigged. Critics also pointed out that the leopard ranked very low in initial rankings and that competition organizers mysteriously dumped the early favorite, Ded Moroz.

The polar bear mascot also sparked controversy. Reuters reports that Viktor Chizhikov, the creator of the teddy bear mascot for the 1980 Olympic Games, claims the newly-selected polar bear mascot is a copy of his own design (below).


"It's exactly the same as mine: the eyes, the nose, the mouth, the smile, though it's askew," Chizhikov said on Ekho Moskvy radio. "I don't like it when people steal, the author always feels it especially painfully."

Opponents of the ruling United Russia party also criticized the polar bear mascot for its resemblance to United Russia’s polar bear symbol.

On Saturday, approximately 1 million Russians cast their mascot votes via text messages and phone calls. The hare, polar bear, and leopard were 3 of 10 designs in the running to become the official 2014 Sochi Olympic mascots.