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Why is Russia not competing at the Tokyo Olympics?

Find out why Russia will not have any representation in the Tokyo Olympics 2021.

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Sayak Dipta Dey

Updated: 22 July 2021 5:29 PM GMT

Russia will not be competing at the Tokyo Olympics due to the ongoing ban by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) on Russia from all major sporting events. The WADA found Russia guilty of non-compliance in 2019 and banned the country for four years in the lieu of the anti-doping laws of the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

However, the WADA looked into Russia's appeal against the ban and reduced the suspension for two years which includes the entire annual year of 2022. Russia will not be able to participate in the 2022 FIFA World Cup and 2021 Tokyo Olympics. Russia also cannot host any tournament during this period. St. Petersburg managed to host the recently concluded Euro 2020 as the tournament is not considered a major international event by WADA.

The back story of Russia's ban

Sanctions due to doping and forgery is not new for Russia. Things have been complicated for Russia since 2014. The Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) was banned back in 2016 due to involvement in a state-backing doping scandal where Russian officers allegedly posed as testing officers to compromise the lab reports. The RUSADA ban forced the track and field athletes out of the Rio Olympics 2016. Russia did not have any presence in the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics 2018 as well.

WADA further found out that RUSADA was involved in manipulating lab data in 2019, thus violating the international doping conduct and banned Russia from all sporting events until 2022. All previous Olympic and World records have been stripped off Russia.

Russian Athletes have been allowed to include Russian colours in their ROC uniform. (Image: ROC)

What next for the Russian athletes?

The Russian athletes can still participate in the Tokyo Olympics 2021. However, the athletes can only represent the Russian Olympic Committee or the ROC. The athletes will not be able to sign the Russian National Anthem or have the Russian Flag unfurl during the ceremonies. The International Olympic Committee has allowed the Russian athletes to play under just the 'ROC' as the team name, not even the full name of the Russian Olympic Committee. The ROC will be displayed with the Olympic insignia with a small Russian flag on the top. Pyotr Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto no.1 will be played for the Russian athletes instead of the Russian National Anthem.

However, it is not the first time that the Russians will play under a neutral flag. The disintegration of the USSR happened two months before the 1992 Olympics forcing the athletes representing Russia to play under the Olympic flag. Whenever the athletes managed to win a medal, the Olympic Hymn used to be played.

The ROC will be represented by 328 athletes in 30 sports. However, none of the medals or records will be attributed to the state of Russia.

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