MOSCOW (Reuters) - The Russian illustrator who designed Misha, the mascot of the 1980 Moscow Olympics that were boycotted by a slew of countries, died on Monday aged 84, a publisher of children's books said.
Viktor Chizhikov, a children's book illustrator, is best known for having created Misha, a brown bear sporting a belt in the colours of the five Olympic rings, for the Moscow Games.
The Cold War left its mark on the 1980 Olympics. The United States led a boycott to protest against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and was joined by about 60 other countries.
In retaliation, the Soviet Union and most of its eastern block allies boycotted the Summer Olympics in Los Angeles four year later.
A group of artists produced 60 versions of the Moscow mascot, according to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) website, but Chizhikov's bear was chosen for the Games.
"It's symbolic that the artist has left us as many of us are remembering the 1980 Olympics," the AST Deti publishing house wrote on Facebook.
"The image of the Olympic bear once created by Viktor Alexandrovich (Chizhikov) has touched the hearts of millions."
At the closing ceremony of the Moscow Games, a large mosaic of Misha in the stands of what is now known as Luzhniki stadium showed a tear rolling down the bear's face.
A gigantic reproduction of the mascot was also lifted from the stadium by colourful balloons.
(Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by Ken Ferris)