What is ROC in the Tokyo Olympics? Why Russian athletes compete under a different name

Russia is banned from the Olympics but is competing under another name at the Games

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics are well under way with some sensational performances already in the pool, off the diving board and on the skatepark.

And while we all love to play guess the country's flag, one in particular is conspicuous by its absence.

What country is ROC in the Olympics?

Russia is banned from the Olympics but is competing under another name at the Tokyo Games.

It is the latest fallout from the Games’ longest-running doping saga. ROC stands for Russian Olympic Committee, and Russian athletes are allowed to represent the committee, even though they can't represent their own country.

Olympic rules require that the acronym ROC be used instead of the full name.

The new rules — an evolution of the “OAR” restrictions used at the 2018 Winter Olympics — are a confusing patchwork of dos and don'ts.

Russian red, white and blue on uniforms are fine — the blocks of color on the official tracksuits form one big flag — but not the word "Russia," the flag itself or other national symbols. The artistic swimming team said it's been blocked from wearing costumes with a drawing of a bear.

Official Olympic paperwork and TV graphics will attribute Russian results to “ROC” but won't spell out the Russian Olympic Committee's name in full. Gold medalists will get music by Russian composer Tchaikovsky instead of the country's national anthem.

ROC squad

Despite the name change, Russia will have a nearly full team at the Olympics after sending depleted squads to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics and the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Games.

This time, only track and field and weightlifting will impose limits on Russian squad size. They are the two sports with the largest numbers of doping cases — from Russia and elsewhere — in recent Olympics. Russian officials have selected a 10-person track team that includes three world champions.

Why is Russia banned from the Olympics?

The latest rules on Russia's name and image were set last year by the Court of Arbitration for Sport in a ruling that satisfied almost nobody.

As so often with Russia, the sanctions aren’t as much about doping as about the cover-up.

Just when Russia was patching up relations with the World Anti-Doping Agency in 2019 by allowing it access to the Moscow anti-doping lab's files, Wada investigators spotted strange anomalies in the data. Evidence had been deleted and spurious information added, including fake messages designed to tarnish the name of Wada's star witness, former lab director Grigory Rodchenkov.

Wada said the edits were made while the lab was sealed off by a Russian law enforcement body. Russia denied wrongdoing.

How are ROC doing at Tokyo?

Not too bad, for a non-country of 144.4 million.

As of the time of publishing athletes representing ROC had won eight medals. Vitalina Batsarashkina set a new Olympic record on her way to winning a gold medal in the women's 10m Air Pistol on Sunday while Anastasiia Galashina won silver in the women's 10m Air Rifle.

Inna Deriglazova and Larisa Korobeynikova collected a silver and bronze medal respectively in fencing while Tatiana Minina won a silver medal in Taekwondo.

The women's team medalled in archery, another silver, while the men's synchronised divers won bronze.

Mikhail Artamonov also won bronze in the men's Taekwondo.

Updated: July 26th 2021, 11:40 AM
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