Hello, I’m Misha the bear cub and I was the mascot of the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow. I was chosen because there are a lot of nice bears like me in Russia. I got to travel all around the world to promote the Olympic Games. I even travel into space with two cosmonauts.
The 1980 Moscow Olympics took place during the peak of the Cold War. The games did produce the first official Olympic mascot ‘Misha’, the bear cub (also known as ‘Mischka’).
In Russian, ‘Misha’ and ‘Mischka’ are forms of the Russian male name ‘Mikhail’. The bear is also an animal that is traditionally used to symbolise Russia and the Soviet Union.
Misha was designed by Victor Chizhnikov – a Russian children’s book illustrator. In 1977, the committee organizing the Olympics held a contest for the best illustration of a bear. The judges chose Victor Chizhikov’s design depicting a smiling bear cub wearing a blue- black- yellow- green- red (colours of the Olympic rings) belt, with a golden buckle shaped like the five rings. Misha was confirmed as an official mascot on December 19th, 1977.
Misha is the first mascot of a sporting event to achieve large-scale commercial success as merchandise. The Misha doll was used extensively during the opening and closing ceremonies, had a TV animated cartoon and appeared on several merchandise products.