Russia’s team name, flag agreed on for next 2 Olympics

Sports

FILE – In this Nov. 28, 2019 file photo Olympic Rings and a model of Misha the Bear Cub, the mascot of the Moscow 1980 Olympic Games, left, are seen in the yard of Russian Olympic Committee building in Moscow, Russia. In the report detailing its decision to shorten Russia’s ban from the Olympics, the highest court in sports blasted that country’s leaders for engaging in “a cover up of the cover-up” in a desperate attempt to deny their culpability, but reduced the punishment nonetheless, Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin, file)

GENEVA (AP) — With Russia’s name banned from the next two Olympics, the country’s team and athletes will be officially branded as “ROC,” the International Olympic Committee said Friday.

The team name — an acronym for Russian Olympic Committee — has been agreed on by the IOC and the World Anti-Doping Agency, which has accused the country of running a state-backed doping program.

Russia’s team name, flag and national anthem were banned from this year’s Tokyo Olympics and the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing by the Court of Arbitration for Sport. The CAS ruling imposed two years of sanctions on Russian sports for tampering with a testing database in Moscow while the laboratory was under state control.

The agreement of calling the team ROC avoids using the word “neutral,” which WADA insisted must counter-balance any reference to the word “Russia” on uniforms or equipment.

Russian competitors were known as “Olympic Athletes from Russia” at the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

The Russian team flag in Tokyo and Beijing will be the ROC symbol — an Olympic flame in the white, blue and red stripes of the national flag above the five Olympic rings.

A piece of music to replace the Russian national anthem at medal ceremonies has not yet been agreed on.

“The Russian Olympic Committee will submit a proposed musical score to be played for all ceremonies,” the IOC said.

ROC president Stanislav Pozdnyakov, who also led the Olympic delegation in 2018, said it had already sent the IOC proposals for the anthem and uniforms.

Russia is aiming to use “Katyusha,” a patriotic Soviet-era folk song strongly identified with the fight against Nazi Germany in World War II.

“We considered it necessary to find and commit to, preferably in written form, a rational balance between completely implementing the sports arbitration ruling and observing the legal rights and interests of our athletes and federations,” Pozdnyakov said.

The International Skating Union approved a piece of music composed by Tchaikovsky for its world championships.

The toughest stand against Russian cheating has been taken by the governing body of track, which requires Russians to compete as Authorized Neutral Athletes at world championships.

This year, Russians have competed under names such as Russian Ski Federation or Russian Luge Federation at world championships.

Russia has also been barred from bidding for or being awarded hosting rights for major sports until December 2022. World championships already given to Russia were supposed to be moved unless it was “legally or practically impossible” to change.

On Friday, the governing body of sports climbing — which makes its Olympic debut in Tokyo — said it was keeping Moscow as host of its world championships in September. The governing body of wrestling previously pushed back Russia’s hosting of the worlds by one year to 2023.

FIFA has not announced the status of the 2021 Beach Soccer World Cup, set to be played in Moscow.

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AP Sports Writer James Ellingworth in Duesseldorf, Germany, contributed to this report.

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