Every Olympic athlete's dream is to see their country's flag and hear the national anthem the highest place on the podium during the most important event in world sport. But the Russian delegation will not be able to feel this emotion at the Tokyo Games.
This happened because of a punishment imposed by the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) and later maintained by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to the country after a long investigation into doping cases.
The agencies concluded that the country's authorities and the Rusada (Russian Anti-Doping Agency) not only failed to collaborate in the investigations, but even tampered with a laboratory database before making the tests available for analysis by Wada.
As a result, Russia was initially banned participating for four years in major sporting competitions on the planet, including the Olympics. In December 2020, CAS reduced the sanction to two years, but not enough to allow the country's delegation to go to Tokyo under normal conditions.
Russia became "ROC"
The ban on Russia does not mean that there are no Russian athletes at the Tokyo Games, quite the contrary. Three hundred and thirty-five athletes born in the country were released to compete in the Olympics because they had no involvement with doping.
However, references to Russia are not allowed – be it the name of the country, the flag or even the national anthem. In February 2021, the IOC (International Olympic Committee) authorized the group to compete in the Olympics under the acronym ROC, which stands for Russian Olympic Committee.
The Russian flag in Tokyo bears the ROC symbol – three flames in white, blue and red, just like the country's flag, and below it the five Olympic rings.
It is worth remembering that competing without the Russian name and flag is nothing new for many athletes in the country because of punishments for doping in recent years. The rule was already in place, for example, at the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Under a neutral flag, a total of 168 Russian athletes participated in the event and won 33 medals, 13 of which were gold.
What is the song that replaces the Russian anthem?
With a defined name and flag, what would be the anthem of the Russian delegation in Tokyo remained to be defined.
In April 2021, the IOC accepted that a portion of Russian composer Tchaikovsky's famous concerto for piano and orchestra No. 1 be played in honor of Russians who ascend to the highest place on the podium. It's a classic that many people recognize early on.