Russian Winter Athletes Will Compete Under The Olympic Flag. Here’s What That Means

December 5, 2017, 8:21 PM UTC

The International Olympic Committee has banned Russia from participating in the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics after a 17-month investigation revealed “the systematic manipulation of the anti-doping rules and system.”

As a result of the investigation, Russia won’t have an official presence in the 2018 games. However, Russian athletes who can prove they haven’t used performance-enhancing drugs will be allowed to compete under the Olympic flag.

What that means is that while they can play, Russia’s flag will not be flown at the games, even if one of the Russian athletes wins a medal. In the event that they do win, the Russian national anthem will also not be played. The Olympic Anthem will be played in any ceremony.

Athletes are not allowed to wear anything with the word “Russia” on it nor have anything symbolic for the country on their clothing. They will instead be assigned a neutral uniform by the International Olympic Committee. Essentially, they’re not competing as Russia in the games and instead as individuals.

In a twist of irony, it was the 1980 Moscow Summer Olympics when the IOC first sanctioned independent Olympians. Fourteen athletes from nations backing the U.S.-led boycott of the games were entered under the Olympic Flag.