Sochi Olympic games mascot mess

Say hello to Zoich, a contender for the role of mascot for the 2014  Sochi Olympic Games. Even if you could bare to kiss him, he will not turn into a prince. Too bad. A prince on a white horse is exactly what is needed to save the 2014 Sochi Games debacle.

The silly-looking mascot is only part of its problems. The Mascot Contest On, September 1, 2010: The Organizing Committee of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games, working conjointly with the Russian newspaper Izvestia, announced a competition to select the mascots for the 2014 games.

The competition received 24,048 entries from across Russia and from Russian citizens living abroad. The competition lasted three months.

The Mascot for Sochi Games Rundown

Thanks to the support of the Sochi 2014 Olympic Organizing Committee:

  • Applications were available at all of  BoscoSPORT’s branches,
  • All of Rosneft’s automobile repair centers offered competition forms
  • Volkswagen Group Rus’s showrooms supplied applications
  •  As did every MegaFon sales office.
  • The Ingosstrakh insurance company dedicated 323 of its company to spreading the news about the mascot competition while distributing 30,000 application forms.
  • Russian Railways gave all passengers on board its Sapsan trains the chance to draw a sketch of their proposed mascot while in transit.
  • Aeroflot flight attendants handed out application forms to passengers flying between Moscow and Sochi.
  • Sberbank of Russia kept the public informed about the competition, through its corporate literature.
  • MegaFon featured a series of television programs entitled “The Star Mascot,” broadcast on the MuzTV channel.

The winner of the contest would receive two free tickets to the games.

Enter the Frog

A YouTube video announced the Zoich the Frog addition to the competition. It showed the feisty frog drinking martinis with the Cookie Monster, para-trooping into a city while attached to a string of balloons, kicking a skiing dolphin, who was one of its rival mascot candidates.

Although this was supposedly a contest for the people,  well-known Russian cartoonist Egor Zhgun created Zoich, and eventually admitted that the Russian Olympic Committee had paid him to enter the contest, in order to drum up excitement.

They told him that he could draw whatever he wanted, as long as he did not tell anyone. Russian Times notes:

Zhgun is known for his sharp-witted graphical comments on all sorts of things which make a buzz on the net, from presidential elections to major sport events to the launch of the new season of the series House MD. His works, usually made as mock movie posters resembling those of real-life blockbusters, have won his blog a grateful audience of more than 20,000 subscribers.

Zoich was one such sarcastic work. Even its name (more properly spelled Z014) is actually a misread number 2014, written as a mixture of Latin and Cyrillic letters. The mascot, resembling the mind-controlling hypnotoad from the cartoon series Futurama, has swirling Olympic rings in its eyes to promote Olympic values and has a crown “to remind about statehood and spirituality” as the author explained in his application form.

Given that Olympic mascots should be free of political innuendo, Zoich did not win the race. The story, however, makes one wonder about other underhanded deals associated with Sochi.

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