Russia Approves Roster Of 335 Neutral Athletes For Tokyo Olympics

Olympic Rings Lit at Night, adapted from image at state.gov

(Article text ©2021 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – June 29, 2021 – article text also appeared at rferl.org/a/russia-neutral-athletes-tokyo-olympics/31332409.html]

Russia’s Olympic Committee (ROC) says it has approved a roster of 335 athletes who will compete at the Tokyo Olympics under a neutral flag and anthem.

ROC President Stanislav Pozdnyakov told journalists on June 29 that he expects the team to improve on its fourth-place medal tally at the Summer Olympics held in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

“Our delegation is larger now and we are waiting for the outcome of our basketball team’s [qualifying] performance to finalize the roster,” he added, according to TASS.

The press office of the Russian Athletics Federation (RusAF) said the roster includes former world hurdles champion Sergei Shubenkov; Anzhelika Sidorova, who won silver and gold in women’s pole vault at the 2019 World Championships; and long jumper Daria Klishina, who competed in Rio.

A 2015 report commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) found evidence of systematic, mass doping among Russian athletes, resulting in Team Russia’s ban from international competition, including the 2016 Summer Olympics and 2018 Winter Olympics.

And in December 2019, WADA banned Russian athletes from competing at major sporting events under the country’s name, flag, and anthem for four years when it declared the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) noncompliant after it was accused of manipulating drug-testing data.

A year later, the Court of Arbitration for Sport halved the period of the ban to two years.

Russia’s anti-doping agency, RUSADA, said it regarded the court’s decision as “flawed” but decided not to appeal the ruling.

The country will compete in the Tokyo games, scheduled to begin on July 23, under the name ROC (Russian Olympic Committee). Russian athletes will wear uniforms bearing the Russian flag’s blue, red, and white colors, and a fragment of a concerto by Russian composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky will be played instead of the Russian national anthem for athletes who win gold.

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics were postponed for one year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

With reporting by AFP, Reuters, and TASS