In December 2019, Russia was banned from all major sporting events, including the Tokyo Olympics, due to a high-profile doping scandal that rocked the sport around the world.
Although the original ban was to last for four years, it was reduced to two years in 2020.
While the ban is considerably shorter, it still means Russia will miss the Tokyo Olympics this summer and the FIFA World Cup in Qatar in 2022.
However, the ban does not necessarily mean that all Russian athletes are barred from competing, thanks to the creation of the ROC.
Here’s everything you need to know about ROC and what it means for athletes and the games as a whole …
What does ROC mean?
ROC stands for Russian Olympic Committee.
Russian athletes can compete for this team because the ban was not outright, but prevents Russia from using its team name and national anthem at sporting events.
The ROC also has its own emblem rather than the Russian flag, and the entire kit must be embroidered with the ROC instead of Russia or the Russian Olympic Committee, according to a statement issued by the International Olympic Committee: “Any public display of the Name of the participant of the organization should use the acronym “ROC”, not the full name “Russian Olympic Committee”.
If the word “Russia” appears anywhere on the kit, it must be accompanied by “neutral athlete”.
Only athletes who can prove that they were not involved in the doping scandal will be allowed to compete for the ROC.
There will however be a slight nod to Russia on the kit, with flag colors allowed to appear throughout the uniform, in accordance with IOC guidelines.
Why was Russia banned?
The ban was introduced after the discovery of a state-sponsored doping program by which Russian officials falsified data provided by the Russian Anti-Doping Agency.
This means that many Russian athletes were blocked or banned from participating in the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.
Meanwhile, Russia has been banned from competing as an athletics country since 2015.
Russia denies any involvement in a state-sponsored doping program and has appealed the initial four-year ban that was introduced in 2019.
What music will be played instead of the Russian national anthem?
The ROC was invited to submit a musical score proposal to replace the Russian national anthem.
Earlier this year, Russian composer Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 was approved by the IOC to be performed when ROC athletes win gold.
How many athletes will compete for the ROC in Tokyo?
A total of 335 athletes will compete for the ROC in Tokyo this summer.