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Misha on a 1980 Soviet stamp

Misha (Russian: Миша), also known as Mishka (Russian: Мишка) or The Olympic Mishka (Russian: Олимпийский Мишка), is the name of the Russian Bear mascot of the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games (the XXII Summer Olympics). He was designed by children's books illustrator Victor Chizhikov.

Misha is the first mascot of a sporting event to achieve large-scale commercial success in merchandise. The Misha doll was used extensively during the opening and closing ceremonies, appeared on several merchandise products and had both an animated short film (animated by Soyuzmultfilm) and a television series (animated by Nippon Animation), all of which are now common practice not only in the Olympic Games, but also in the FIFA World Cup and other events' mascots.[1]

Origins of the name Misha[edit]

In Russian, Misha is a short form for the Russian male name Mikhail (Michael), and Mishka is a diminutive of Misha.

This name, in any of its forms, is a common colloquialism in Russian for a bear, because it is similar to the standard name for bear медведь (medved). Also, most anthropomorphic bears in Russian fairy tales have this name. It is thought to originate as a euphemism for medved, which was tabooed because of magical thinking that letting out the "true name" of the dangerous animal may cause it to come and attack.[citation needed] Medved (which means "honey-eater") itself is thought to be older Proto-Slavic euphemism for Proto-Indo-European *r̥kþos.


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 (colors of the Olympic rings) weightlifter's belt, with a golden buckle shaped like the five rings. Misha's design of a small, cuddly and smiling bear cub was evidently intended to counter the "big and brutal Russian Bear". Misha was confirmed as an official mascot on 19 December 1977. Chizhikov complained that the country reneged on a promise to grant him the copyright to his bear which deprived him of royalties, although the Russian Olympic Committee stated "in accordance with the Olympic Charter, after Dec. 31 of the year in which the Olympic Games had been held, all the rights to the intellectual property and the symbols of the Olympics go the International Olympic Committee".[1]

Placard of Misha shedding tears at 1980 Summer Olympics closing ceremony.

During the closing ceremony of the 1980 Olympic Games, a giant effigy of Misha the Bear holding a cluster of balloons was paraded in the stadium. On one side of the stadium where the Olympic Torch was situated, there was a placard mural of Misha which shed tears from his left eye.[2] At the end of the ceremony, Misha with his balloons was released and rose in the air away from the stadium, and this nostalgic moment has been fondly remembered by Russians.[3][4] A few hours later Misha landed on Vorobyovy Gory and later was exhibited at the Exhibition Centre.[5]


Misha also appeared in the 1980 Olympics episode of the Russian cartoon Nu, pogodi!, handing trophies to the Wolf and the Hare.

In 1988, in connection with the 60th anniversary of Mickey Mouse, a special magazine was produced in which Mickey Mouse and Misha met.[6]

Misha's designer, Viktor Chizhikov, accused the designer of the polar bear mascot (named Bely Mishka, and is said to be Misha's grandson) for the 2014 Sochi Olympics of plagiarism. Chizhikov noted that the Bely's facial features were all taken from Misha, saying "they just pumped him up and made him fatter". Chizhikov also complained that Bely and the other two mascots (the Hare and Leopard) was lacking personality. As a result of these issues, as well as being denied the copyright to Misha, Chizhikov declined to help when asked by the organizers of the 2014 Winter Olympics closing ceremony.[7][3]

A short clip of the 1980 Summer Olympics closing ceremony of Misha's departure was shown in the closing ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics, afterward the giant animatrionic polar bear Mishka blew out the 2014 Games Olympic torch and sheds a tear (in a nod to Misha's tears during the end of the 1980 Games).[8][9][10]

The main character of manga series, Uchi no Maid ga Uzasugiru is named after Misha.

Misha the Little Bear[edit]

Misha the Little Bear
Koguma no Misha logo.png
(Koguma no Mīsha)
GenreComedy, sports
Anime television series
Directed byYoshikata Nitta
Written byShun'ichi Yukimuro
Music byShunsuke Kikuchi
StudioNippon Animation
Original networkTV Asahi
Original run October 6, 1979 April 5, 1980
Wikipe-tan face.svg Anime and Manga portal

Misha the Little Bear (こぐまのミーシャ, Koguma no Mīsha), is an anime television series created by Nippon Animation that aired in Japan on TV Asahi from October 6, 1979 through April 5, 1980.

Series background[edit]

The series was inspired by the mascot introduced for the 1980 Summer Olympics held in Moscow. Each episode was 24 minutes, and the series was broadcast on the TV Asahi network from October 6, 1979 through April 5, 1980. The original design for Misha is based on the illustration created by Victor Chizhikov.

The opening and ending animations for the first episode made use of an opaque projector and omitted the lyrics and most of the credits. Beginning with the second episode, the lyrics for the theme song were included, as were the credits for the main staff. Additionally, at the end of the opening animation, the Olympic rings were added with text indicating the characters were being used with the consent of the International Olympic Committee.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Alpert, Lukas I.. (20 February 2014) Russians Get Misty for 1980 Olympic Mascot Misha—Except for His Creator – WSJ. Online.wsj.com. Retrieved on 2016-07-02.
  2. ^ Bear Misha – The Olympic Mascot 1980. English Russia. Retrieved on 2 July 2016.
  3. ^ a b Alpert, Lukas I.. (20 February 2014) Russians Get Misty for 1980 Olympic Mascot Misha—Except for His Creator – WSJ. Online.wsj.com. Retrieved on 2016-07-02.
  4. ^ "Philip Barker: Sochi 2014 have lot to live up to match Misha farewell at Moscow 1980". Inside the Games. Retrieved 24 February 2014.
  5. ^ Moscow Olympics 1980 Closing ceremony with Misha!. YouTube (8 June 2012). Retrieved on 2016-07-02.
  6. ^ Микки Маус и Миша (Mikki Maus i Misha). Inducks.org
  7. ^ Mackay, Duncan. (1 March 2011) Misha the Bear creator claims Sochi 2014 polar bear has been stolen from him. Insidethegames.biz. Retrieved on 2016-07-02.
  8. ^ Olympic News – Official Source of Olympic News. Sochi2014.com (28 June 2016). Retrieved on 2016-07-02.
  9. ^ Cooper, Sam. (23 February 2014) Sochi Bear mascot 'blows out' Olympic flame to cap off a great Olympics for bears | Fourth-Place Medal – Yahoo Sports. Sports.yahoo.com. Retrieved on 2016-07-02.
  10. ^ Sanchez, Josh. (23 February 2014) 2014 Sochi Olympics: Sochi bear mascot cries, blows out flame during Closing Ceremony (Video). Fansided.com. Retrieved on 2016-07-02.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Roni (mascot)
Lake Placid 1980
Olympic mascot

Moscow 1980
Succeeded by
Vučko (mascot)
Sarajevo 1984