Russians to Compete as "ROC Team" at 2021 Olympics as WADA Ban Enforces Neutrality

Sun, 07/18/2021 - 09:21
The emblem Russia is allowed to use as replacement for its flag competing as neutral athletes at the 2021 Olympics Games following Russia's WADA ban for its systemic, state-powered doping program and manipulation

At the 2021 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Russian athletes will be competing under a "neutral flag" as Russia has been banned from top global sports competition since it was caught in a systematic doping scandal in 2015.

Their flag will not be flown and the national anthem not played. Instead they have settled for Tchaikovsky as national anthem. 

at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics, Russian athletes held an Olympic flag and carried the title “Olympic Athlete from Russia”. The team wore light grey coats, white scarves and hats, and blue jeans — instead of their usual attire of hyperbolic red, white, and blue.

Red, White and Blue is Back for Tokyo

However, for Tokyo 2020 the Court of Arbitration for Sport allowed some leniency towards Russia: They could use their national colours. They could keep the name “Russia” if words similar to “Neutral Athlete” had equal prominence on uniforms.  

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) said the uniform designs were in line with the guidelines for implementation of the CAS verdict that it published in February. "The uniforms have been approved on this basis," an IOC spokesperson added. reported that "an Olympic fashion show in April shows that Russia took the CAS up on its offer. Wearing polo tops and sweatpants cut with bold white, blue and red diagonal bands, it’s not hard to spot the Russian athletes. Even Russian Olympic Committee president Stanislav Pozdnyakov said that one doesn’t need a “strong imagination” to see the national flag in the uniform design."

According to Inside The Games, "the guidelines also stipulate that if the uniform contains or displays the name "Russia" in any language or format, the words "neutral athlete" - or an equivalent - must be displayed in English in a position and size that is no less prominent than the name "Russia".

"If the uniform includes the words 'Russian Olympic Committee', such wording should be removed all together or be replaced with the acronym ROC," the guidelines state.  "If removing the words 'Russian Olympic Committee' is not possible or if the word 'Russia' or 'Russian' appears separately, then the words 'Neutral Athlete' for example must be included in a position and size that is no less prominent."

ROC Team

ROC dressage team members Maria Shuvalova (reserve) and
Aleksandra Maksakova in the Olympic Village in Tokyo
Russian dressage riders in Tokyo have been advocating themselves as "ROC Team" (Russia Olympic Committee Team). That full name can’t be displayed. The Committee flag — three flames flying above Olympic rings - will be flown in lieu of the Russian flag.

The Russian dressage riders, who arrived in Tokyo, have been wearing team outfits with red, white and blue. 

A total of 335 athletes will be competing in Tokyo. Russia has sent a dressage team of three. 

Systemic Doping and Manipulation reported that "after a World Anti-Doping Agency-commissioned 2015 report found evidence of institutionalized doping and manipulation of lab data, Russia was banned for four years from using its name, flag and anthem at world sports championships, including the Olympics.a

Under the terms of the decision by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), which halved the four-year package of punishments initially imposed by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), Russian athletes can only compete at the Olympic Games and World Championships as neutrals and its flag, anthem and symbols have been banned.

It’s not the first time Russian athletes competed under a neutral flag. The dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1992 took place two months before the Olympics, so athletes from the former Soviet Union, except the Baltic States, participated under a neutral flag at the Winter Olympics in Albertville and the Summer Olympics in Barcelona. When athletes won gold medals, the Olympic hymn was played.

Related Links
WADA Bans Russia from Sports for 4 Years, Including 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games
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