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.
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.
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.