Explanation: Why don’t the Russians compete under their flag in Beijing?

BEIJING, Feb 1 (Reuters) – Russian athletes competing in the Beijing Olympics this month will compete without their flag or national anthem due to anti-doping sanctions.

Here’s why sanctions have been imposed on Russian sport and what they mean for the country’s athletes.

WHY ARE THERE SANCTIONS AGAINST RUSSIA?

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The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) imposed sanctions against RUSADA, Russia’s national anti-doping agency, in December 2019. These measures have had a series of consequences for Russian sport on the world stage.

WADA said Russian authorities had “brazenly and unlawfully manipulated” the Moscow lab’s data, despite handing it over as a condition of RUSADA’s reinstatement.

The agency was declared “non-compliant” by WADA in November 2015 after a report found evidence of mass doping in Russian athletics.

The WADA sanctions, among other things, banned Russia from flying its flag at major sporting events for a period of four years. The sanctions were later halved after a Russian appeal.

WHAT DID RUSSIA DO?

RUSADA appealed the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne.

In December 2020, the CAS – the highest court in sport – decided to partially maintain the sanctions but reduced them by half to two years. Sanctions are scheduled to end on December 16, 2022.

The sanctions prohibit Russia from hosting, bidding or obtaining hosting rights for major international sporting events, including Olympic and world championships.

They also prohibit the country from flying its flag and playing its anthem at such events.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR RUSSIAN ATHLETES IN BEIJING?

The Russian delegation in Beijing, which includes 212 athletes, cannot display the country’s tricolor flag or any national emblem or symbol.

Instead of representing Russia, athletes compete as representatives of the Russian Olympic Committee under the acronym “ROC”.

Their uniforms bear the logo of the Russian Olympic Committee – three flames in the colors of the national flag with the Olympic rings below – instead of the Russian flag.

The Russian Olympic champions will receive their gold medals for Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1, which has been chosen to replace the national anthem.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR RUSSIAN OFFICIALS?

The sanctions also mean that Russian government officials cannot participate in or attend the Olympics. However, there are exceptions to this rule.

Senior officials invited by the head of state of the host country can still attend. Invited by Chinese President Xi Jinping to the Beijing Games, Russian President Vladimir Putin will fill the void left by many foreign dignitaries boycotting the opening ceremony on February 4.

HOW HAVE RUSSIANS COMPETED AT PREVIOUS OLYMPIC GAMES?

Russians competing in Beijing will face the same restrictions as their compatriots who competed in the Tokyo Summer Olympics last year.

Russia was also stripped of its flag at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Games in South Korea as punishment for state-sponsored doping at the 2014 Sochi Games.

Many Russians were also banned from the Rio 2016 Summer Games in response to a WADA-commissioned report that revealed systematic doping in a slew of Olympic disciplines.

Russia has acknowledged some shortcomings in its implementation of anti-doping rules, but denies having a state-sponsored doping program in place.

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Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by Ken Ferris

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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