Russia’s Olympic Committee has unveiled two new mascots to represent the country’s sporting spirit.
Designed by the Art. Lebedev Studio, they are a fluffy white cat in the form of Russia’s traditional ushanka hat, and a roly-poly toy bear, who also doubles up as a matryoshka.
They’ll be helping the Russian Olympic Committee to represent the country’s athletes abroad, as well as promoting “Olympic values” and sport development, officials said in a press release. The charm offensive comes as Russia’s sports stars struggle to shake off the stigma of the country’s doping scandal, which saw scores of athletes banned from the world stage after accusations that they’d used illegal performance enhancers. One official clip of Russia’s new bear mascot shows the toy bouncing back from swooping banners spelling out “doping,” “scandals”, and “ sanctions”.
“Our mascots are symbols of the Russian Olympic Committee and talismans for the team,” said Art. Lebedev Studio. “Our cat and bear are sometimes kind and sweet, but can bring some sporting grit when they need to.”
Both mascots will be accompanying the Russian team to the European Games in Minsk this year, joining supporters from home and abroad. In the meantime, Russian fans have been given the ultimate challenge: to find two new names for the cuddly characters.