Is Russia’s 2014 Olympic Mascot a Copycat of the 1980 Logo?

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Misha (left), the 1980 Olympics mascot, is seen next to the polar bear chosen as the mascot for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics

Fast Company (left) / Sochi2104 (right)

This weekend, the four mascots for the 2014 Sochi (Russia) Winter Olympics were revealed. But there seems to be a curious air of familiarity surrounding one of them.

The Russian public voted Saturday night for their three favorite mascots via text and phone after a televised unveiling. The top choices – a cuddly rabbit, a sporty snow leopard, and a pudgy polar bear – were chosen from a pool of nine potential mascots. But perhaps you’ve seen the polar bear before? Is it just fond memories, or is the fan-favorite bear mascot a blatant rip-off of the one used in the 1980 Olympic mascot?

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Misha the bear was the mascot for the 1980 Summer Olympics held, of all places, in Moscow. The brown bear wore a belt featuring the Olympic rings logo – and bears quite a resemblance to the recently unveiled 2014 mascot. “This polar bear, everything is taken from mine, the eyes, nose, mouth, smile. I don’t like being robbed,” Misha’s creator Viktor Chizhikov told a Russian radio station.

Perhaps during this contest Russians felt a subconscious affinity for Misha’s twin. But all this copycat commotion leaves us wondering: where’s the line between flattery and forgery?

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And it seems no Olympic representation can catch a break this week. London’s 2012 logo is facing heat from Iran’s Olympic delegation, who contends the design resembles the word “Zion,” a biblical term often used as a reference to Jerusalem in Israel.  The AP reports Iran is threatening to boycott the games because of the logo disagreement.

But in the Olympic spirit of camaraderie and cooperation, let’s save the sparks for the playing field, okay?