July 19, 2021

An Olympic Reintroduction


An Olympic Reintroduction
The first-ever team mascots for the almost-Russian team.  Photo via the official Twitter of the Russian Olympic Committee

The two brave faces of the nation's Olympic presence (not to be confused with the Olympic team of the Russian Federation, which was officially banned from participating in Olympic events this year due to doping scandals) will be a cheerful teddy bear named Mishka-Nevalyashka and a stern-looking kitty named Hat-Cat.

While the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC for short) is not allowed to bear the Russian flag or play their national anthem at any point during the Olympic games, they did find a way to sneak iconic cultural symbols into both of their team mascots. The bear is fashioned to resemble a beloved Russian children's toy, fittingly called a "nevalyashka" (which very loosely translates to "un-knock-over-able-thing"). The toy is shaped kind of like a Russian matryoshka doll but has a weight at the bottom so that when it is hit it simply rolls around but never falls down. This is an inspirational attribute for any Olympic athlete for sure! 

Hat-Cat, as its name suggests, is fashioned to look like a classic Russian ushanka, complete with ear-flaps for legs and everything. Furthermore, the kitty's perpetually grumpy demeanor is meant to resemble Russia's very own endangered (and very cute) species of Manul cat, which can be found in Siberia.  

The graphic design company Art.Lebedev actually created this dynamic duo back in 2019, but obviously had to put their grand debut on hold due to some more pressing matters (global pandemics tend to do that). The Russian Olympic Committee took the opportunity to reintroduce us to these cuties this past week on their Twitter account, pleasantly surprising a lot of people with their existence.

It sounds like team not-Russia is in good paws!

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