If you’re watching the Paralympic Games, you may notice an unfamiliar abbreviation, RPC.
It stands for the Russian Paralympic Committee, and it’s a way of allowing Russian athletes to compete in the Paralympics while their country is banned from the Games because of one of the biggest doping scandals in sport history.
There are some specific rules the RPC has to follow to make clear it is not representing the country of Russia.
But first, a reminder on how Russia got here in the first place:
Inside the Russian doping ban
In 2019, the World Anti-Doping Agency banned Russia from all international sporting competitions, including the Paralympics, for four years over doping non-compliance.
The punishment was related to inconsistencies in data retrieved by WADA in January 2019 from the Moscow lab at the center of a 2016 report that uncovered a widespread and sophisticated state-sponsored sports doping network.
Last year, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) cut Russia’s ban in half to two years following an appeal.
Competing as neutral athletes
Under the ban, Russian athletes can still compete as neutral athletes – which means they do not technically represent a specific country – if they can prove they had no link to the doping scandal.
There will be 242 RPC athletes at the Tokyo Paralympics.
The team still bears the country’s colors of white, blue and red, and features athletes who have represented Russia in previous Olympics.
Instead of Russia’s flag, the team’s flag will combine three flames with its colors white. blue and red and the Paralympic symbol, Agitos.
Russians have played under several team names throughout the past century, representing the Russian Empire, the Soviet Union, and the Unified Team, according to the team’s page on the Olympics website.
More than 100 Russian athletes were banned from the 2016 Rio Olympics, which came shortly after the report on state-sponsored doping.
The current ban also means Russia can’t be represented as a country at the 2022 World Cup or the 2022 Winter Olympics, so Russia’s flag and anthem won’t be at the Olympics until the 2024 games in Paris.
CNN’s Ben Church, Ben Morse, Martijn Edelman, George Ramsay and Zachary B. Wolf contributed to this report.