Russian Olympic Committee: Why is Russia called ROC at Tokyo Olympics?

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An ROC flag features the main colours of the Russia national flag (Picture: TASS via Getty Images)

If you’re an eagle-eyed viewer of this year’s Olympics and find yourself wondering what country ROC could possibly be then read on.

ROC is likely to appear hundreds of times throughout the next fortnight on your TV screen and you’ll probably be wracking your brains as to which country that abbreviation is representative of.

Well, look no further.

What does ROC stand for at the Olympics?

ROC stands for Russian Olympic Committee.

At the Tokyo 2020 Olympics there is set to be 335 athletes from Russia who will compete under the Olympic flag rather than representing Russia as a country.

Russia’s National Olympic Committee has been banned meaning you won’t see Russia’s national flag or national anthem being played should their athletes win gold.

Why ROC? Russia’s Olympics ban explained

Russia were handed a four-year ban from all major sporting events by the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) in 2019.

Russia’s Anti Doping Agency (Rusada) was declared non-compliant for manipulating laboratory data handed over to investigators in January 2019.

It had to hand over data to Wada as a condition of its controversial reinstatement in 2018 after a three-year suspension for its vast state-sponsored doping scandal.

Russia will not compete under their own flag or national anthem at Tokyo 2020 (Picture: Masashi Hara/Getty Images)

WADA had originally banned Russia from the world’s top sporting events for four years in December 2019, but the duration of the sanctions was halved to two years following an appeal last year.

As a result Russia won’t be able to compete at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics.

Russia has also been banned from competing as a nation in athletics since 2015

However, athletes who can prove they are untainted by the doping scandal will be able to compete under a neutral flag.

‘All public displays of the organisation’s participant name should use the acronym ‘ROC’, not the full name “Russian Olympic Committee”’, the IOC previously said in a statement.

The logo of the Russian Olympic Committee consists of three flames in the national Russian flag colours with the Olympic rings below them.

Athletes who win gold will have a fragment of a concerto by Russian composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky played instead of the Russia national anthem.

Russian sportsmen and women must compete in international competitions under a neutral flag until the ban ends on December 16, 2022.

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What is ROC at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, is it a country and are Russia allowed at the games?

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THE Olympic Games is set to get underway as athletes from around the world look to bring glory to their countries.

But eagle-eyed fans will notice the abbreviation ROC appearing alongside one of the teams for the duration of the event.

3 Athletes from Russia take part in opening ceremony at Pyeongchang winter Olympics in 2018, dressed in neutral colours. Credit: Getty - Contributor

What is ROC and how did it come about?

ROC stands for Russian Olympic Committee.

303 athletes from Russia are set to compete under the Olympic flag rather than representing Russia as a country.

Russia admitted multiple breaches of the sport’s anti-doping code and were fined £7.9million and the news resulted in more than 100 Russian athletes being barred from the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio.

The Russian anti-doping agency did appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport against WADA sanctions barring Russian teams from competing in or hosting international competitions for four years - with the suspension being cut down to two years, providing they pay £3.5million of the fine by July 1 - which they have successfully done.

The International Olympic Committee therefore paved the way for Russian athletes to compete as Authorised Neutral Athletes at Tokyo 2020.

Athletes who provide negative drug tests are to compete under a neutral flag and are not allowed to march under the Russian flag or wear Russia’s colours or logos.

What kit do the ROC athletes have to wear? Do they have a national anthem?

If the ROC win any medals, the Olympic theme will play during the ceremony instead of the usual Russian national anthem.

However, this time around they will be allowed to wear tracksuits in the colours of the Russian flag, so long as the word “Russia” does not appear.

In 2018, Russian athletes had to collect their medals wearing grey tracksuits.

ROC athletes are expected to refrain from any public form of publicity, activity and communication associated with the Russian national flag, anthem, emblem and symbol at any Olympic site and are banned from sharing any images or messages on social media.

Anyone from the media must refer to them as “Russian Olympic Committee” - so get your head screwed on for that.

3 OAR athletes dressed in grey sweatsuits for Olympic ceremony at the 2018 Winter Olympic games in Pyeongchang Credit: EPA

3 Expect to see this type of neutral clothing for athletes representing ‘OAR’ at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic games. Credit: Getty Images - Getty

Has Russia been banned from the Olympic Games before?

This will not be the first time Russian athletes have competed under the a neutral banner, as they previously did so in the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

Back then, they were known as OAR - Olympic Athletes from Russia.

However, the name ROC was decided after the International Olympic Committee decided the word “Russia” could no longer be used in the team name.

In 2018, the Paralympic Committee was even stricter, insisting that Russian athletes could only compete under the name NPA - Neutral Paralympic Athletes.

What is ROA?

Not to be confused with the Russians, ROA is the much-celebrated Team of Refugee Olympic Athletes.

In 2016, ten men and women who came from embattled nations like South Sudan and Syria to compete at the Rio Olympics and will do so again this time around.

Russia allowed to use ROC acronym, committee’s emblem at Olympics after doping sanctions

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The Russia team name, flag and national anthem are banned from the next two Olympics as part of doping sanctions levied by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in December. It’s meant to keep the country from having a formal presence at the games as a result of its years-long doping scandal.

But the competing athletes will still be clearly affiliated with the country after an agreement by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) came on Friday. The IOC announced that athletes competing for Russia will be branded as “ROC” — an acronym standing for Russian Olympic Committee — and will compete under the committee’s symbol that features the white, blue and red of the national flag.

Russia to compete under country colors

Russia agreed to changes set out in a rubric divided into its name, emblem, flag, anthem and uniform.

All public displays of the name will be “ROC,” with “Russian Olympic Committee” disallowed. The name of the national federation will be used at sport-specific world championships in acronym form (RSF for Russian Ski Federation). “RUS” is not allowed since it is the shortform of the country’s name.

The Russian flag and any former iteration of it is not allowed in any form. Instead, the emblem of ROC — three flames in white, blue and red over the Olympic rings — will be used. Any wording or extra national symbols are not allowed. This pertains to the flag under which the nation will walk into the opening ceremonies.

The uniform has yet to be revealed, but requirements follow all of the above guidelines. The anthem is also not yet settled. The Russian Olympic Committee will submit a proposed musical score for all ceremonies, the IOC said, and it will need to be approved by the IOC Executive Board.

Russian doping sanctions for 2020, 2022

The Russian Olympic Committee emblem will be used at the next two Olympics without any wording. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)

The CAS ruled in December that Russia’s name, flag and anthem are banned from the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, rescheduled to this summer because of COVID-19, and the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. Both Paralympics are also impacted as well as the men’s World Cup in November of 2022 and sport-specific world championships.

Story continues

The court is requiring vetting for all Russian athlete and is allowing them to compete under their nation’s colors.

The CAS ruling is based on the WADA’s finding that doping data was manipulated, but the court cut the sanctions in half. WADA wanted a four-year ban from all world championships in all sports. Dozens of Russian athletes were found to have used performance-enhancing drugs and dodged punishment for it with help from the Russian government.

Some Russian athletes competed at the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang under the name “Olympic Athletes from Russia.” They were not allowed to wear the flag, colors or logo and had to “refrain from any public form of publicity, activity and communication associated with the national flag, anthem, emblem and symbol.”

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