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Why can't Russia display its flag and compete as ROC at the Olympics?

Know the story behind the ban imposed on the Russian team to display their flag & play the national anthem at Tokyo Olympics

Russian Olympics Committee at the Opening Ceremony of Tokyo Olympics (Source: Getty Images)

Russian Olympics Committee at the Opening Ceremony of Tokyo Olympics (Source: Getty Images)


Kalptaru Agarwal

Updated: 30 July 2021 12:08 PM GMT

If you have been following the Tokyo Olympics, you may have witnessed ROC written in many places instead of the country code by which it is defined. They are actually the current 4th position holders on the medal table with 8 gold, 12 silver and 9 bronze medals till now. Some of you might think it to be a new country or others might guess it to be the refugee team. Well, it's none of them, so what's this ROC, why is it formed and why you can't find Russia on the medal tally are some of the questions we are going to discuss at length.

What is the ROC?

ROC, or the Russian Olympics Committee is the group formed under which the Russian athletes are participating in the Tokyo Olympics. The strong 335 members Russian contingent is considered "neutrals" and not from their particular nation since Russia is currently banned from the Olympics. It is a strong workaround for athletes from Russia who proved themselves not to be included in any dope scandal.

ROC (Source: Getty Images)

What led to the ban?

The World Anti-Doping Agency discovered a doping scandal with the Russian team in 2019 which led to their ban from participating in any international sporting competition including the Olympics for a period of four years. It was researched that Russia tampered with drug testing data to cover up state-sponsored doping programs. The decision was cut in half by the Court of Arbitration for Sports to two years. This ban will now end in December 2022.

What were the repercussions of the ban?

The ban exercised the right to bar Russian athletes from participating under their flag and play their national anthem at the Olympics. Instead of this, ROC's flag is the messiah for all the stars and young athletes from Russia who could wear their jerseys but are forbidden from any national representation.

They compete under the flag featuring an Olympic flame in Russian colors above the five Olympic rings. Also, when someone wins the Olympics gold from Russia, "Piano Concerto No.1" of Pyotr Tchaikovsky is played instead of the national anthem.

What is the future of this ban?

The athletes who were not a part of the scandal are happily participating in Tokyo but without national representation. The country is also barred from their usage of the national flag at the 2022 World Cup and the 2022 Winter Olympics which are scheduled to be held before December 2022.

If next time you watch ROC at the Olympics, remember it's the way to give the honest Russian athletes a chance to compete at the world's largest sporting event.

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