September 01, 2021

Flame Out



Due to the sports doping ban about which much has been written, Russia was not allowed to compete in the Tokyo Olympics this summer. But Russian athletes did compete under the “flag” of the “Russian Olympic Committee” (ROC).

As such, even though their contingent (still over 300 athletes) was smaller than in Olympics past (notably, only 10 track and field athletes were allowed), the ROC nonetheless placed third in the overall medal count, with 71 – 20 golds, 28 silvers, and 23 bronze – and fifth in the gold medal rankings. This was, in fact, Russia’s highest medal count since the 2004 games. Indeed, the Wall Street Journal quipped partway through the games that Russia was “hauling gold out of Tokyo like a Siberian mine.”

While some critics said that the Russian athletes’ participation in the games “made a mockery” of the international sanctions, Russian athletes at the games were diplomatic in navigating their difficult situation.


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