In December 2019, Russia was banned from all major sporting events, including the Tokyo Olympics, due to a high profile doping scandal which rocked sport around the world.  

Although the initial ban was set to last four years, this was cut to two years in 2020. 

Despite the ban being considerably shorter, it still means that Russia will miss out on the Tokyo Olympics this summer and the Football World Cup in Quatar in 2022. 

However, the ban doesn't necessarily mean all Russian athletes are prevented from competing, thanks to the establishment of the ROC. 

Here's everything you need to know about the ROC and what it means for athletes and the games as a whole...

What does the ROC stand for?

ROC stands for Russian Olympic Committee. 

Russian athletes can compete for this team because the ban was not outright, but prevents Russia from using its team name and national anthem at sporting events. 

The ROC also has its own emblem rather than the Russian flag, and all kit must be embroidered with ROC instead of Russia or Russian Olympic Committee, as per a statement issued by the International Olympic Committee: "All public displays of the organisation’s participant name should use the acronym ‘ROC’, not the full name “Russian Olympic Committee".

If the word 'Russia' features anywhere on the kit, it must be accompanied by 'neutral athlete'. 

Only athletes who can prove they were not involved in the doping scandal will be allowed to compete for the ROC. 

There will be one slight nod to Russia on the kit however, with the flag's colours allowed to feature throughout the uniform as according to IOC guidance.

Why was Russia banned?

The ban was introduced after a state sponsored doping scheme was discovered by which Russian officials tampered with data provided by the Russian Anti-Doping Agency. 

It meant that many Russian athletes were blocked or banned from competing at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. 

Meanwhile, Russia has been banned from competing as a country in athletics since 2015. 

Russia denies any involvement in a state sponsored doping scheme, and appealed the initial four year ban that was introduced in 2019. 

What music will be played instead of Russia's national anthem?

The ROC was invited to submit a proposed musical score to replace Russia's national anthem. 

Earlier this year, Russian composer Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1 was approved by the IOC to be played when athletes from the ROC win gold. 

How many athletes will compete for ROC in Tokyo?

A total of 335 athletes will compete for the ROC in Tokyo this summer, with the team already having won numerous medals.