Its significance? An opportunity for clean Russian athletes to compete in the Olympics while their country remains banned from the Games because of a doping scandal.
There are specific rules the ROC has to follow to distinguish itself from the country of Russia.
But first, here is a reminder of how events unfolded at the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang.
Russia banned, but ‘clean’ athletes given lifeline
But there was a catch.
Two OAR athletes failed drugs tests during the Games, but it wasn’t enough to prevent Russia from being welcomed back into the Olympic family shortly after the Games had concluded.
That, though, wasn’t to be the end of the story.
Further Russian sanctions
The punishment was related to inconsistencies in data retrieved by WADA in January 2019 from the Moscow lab at the center of a 2016 report that uncovered a widespread and sophisticated state-sponsored sports doping network.
WADA’s compliance review committee suggested sanctions because the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) failed to fully cooperate during probes into the country’s sports.
The verdict means Russian athletes are currently unable to compete under their country’s name, flag and national anthem at major international sporting events until December 16, 2022 — thus covering both the 2022 Winter Games and 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
WADA, though, warned ahead of the Beijing Games that although Russia is now following anti-doping rules it shouldn’t assume sanctions will automatically lifted when the country’s suspension ends.
“RUSADA needs to follow the rules, the requirements, and standards and so far they are doing it […] This is an ongoing process, this is not end of this chapter,” WADA President Witold Banka told Reuters in February.
Russia’s flag and anthem, therefore, won’t be seen or heard at the Olympics until the 2024 Games in Paris at the earliest.
The creation of the ROC and Tokyo success
In February 2021, the IOC announced Russian athletes would compete under the acronym ROC at the Tokyo 2020 and Beijing 2022 Olympics.
The team would still bear the country’s colors of white, blue and red.
But instead of Russia’s flag, the ROC’s flag features its colors in an Olympic flame placed above the five Olympic rings.
Further success is now being forecast at the Beijing Games.
Beijing awaits, Putin poised to attend
Fifteen-year-old figure skating sensation Kamila Valieva, cross-country skier Alexander Bolshunov and the men’s ice hockey team are among those strongly tipped for success.
Just as in Tokyo, ROC gold medal winners will be played Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s “Piano Concerto No. 1” instead of the Russian national anthem during their medal ceremony.
The ROC will have 212 athletes at Beijing 2022 and has been predicted to finish in the top three in the final medal standings.
They can expect to be watched on at the Opening Ceremony by Russian President Vladimir Putin after he assured Chinese leader Xi Jinping that he would attend the event.
It comes after the United States, United Kingdom and Australia all announced a diplomatic boycott of February’s Games.
Meanwhile, the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic will once against cast a shadow over proceedings.