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Russia at the Olympics

Russian athletes first competed at the Olympic Games in 1900, then in 1908 and 1912, competing as part of the Russian Empire. It was not until 1952 that they again appeared at the Olympic Games, as part of the team from the Soviet Union. After the break up of the USSR in 1991, Russian athletes competed as part of the Unified Team at the 1992 Games, then as Russia again in 1996 and ever since.

The Russian Empire team at the 1912 Olympic Games opening ceremony The Russian Empire team at the 1912 Olympic Games opening ceremony (from the Official Report)

Competing as the Soviet Union, the nation finished first overall in the medal tally in 1956, 1960, 1972, 1976 and 1980 and second in 1952, 1964 and 1968.

Even when Russia was competing on its own, it is still a potent force in the Olympics as it placed in top four in the 1996 up to 2016 editions of the Games. It also finished second in 1996 to 2000, third in 2004 to 2008, fourth in 2012 to 2016, and 5th in 2021.

Notable Russian athletes include Evgeniya Kanaeva, the first individual all around back-to-back Olympic gold medalists, and its women’s rhythmic gymnastics team, four-time winners of the group all around event.

Many Russian athletes were barred from attending the 2016 Rio Olympics following revelations state-sponsored doping. For the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, Russia's flag and anthem were banned (also for the Winter Olympics in Beijing 2022). Under the sanctions only Russian athletes who met certain criteria were able to compete. The Russian athletes who participated at the Tokyo 2020 did so under the name "ROC" (the acronym of the Russian Olympic Committee).


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