The 169-athlete Russian Olympic team walked out in neutral colors holding the Olympic flag at the opening ceremony

  • The Olympic Athletes from Russia walked out during opening ceremonies in outfits of muted color and under the Olympic flag.
  • The fashion and flag choices were imposed as part of sanctions against Russia for allegations of widespread doping among Russian athletes in past Olympics.
  • While Russia will not be formally recognized, the delegation is still one of the largest at the Winter Games and will likely contend for the top of the medal count.


The opening ceremony to the Winter Olympics marked the official start of the games on Friday at Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium.

The centerpiece of the opening ceremony is always the parade of nations, in which the athletes march out with their country's delegation behind their flag, wearing matching uniforms representative of their country and waving to the collected crowd.

But this year, the Russian delegation came out under slightly different circumstances due to the sanctions against the country for widespread doping among athletes.

First, the 169 athletes were billed as "Olympic Athletes from Russia," as Russia is not officially being recognized at the games. Additionally, the group wore neutral colors as they paraded around the stadium, electing to make the walk in denim bottoms, grey jackets, and white scarves. The group also walked out under the Olympic flag rather than the Russian flag, and was not allowed the honor of a flag bearer, with that role going instead to a volunteer from the Olympic committee.

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Russian Olympians during the Opening Ceremony
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Russian Olympians during the Opening Ceremony
Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics ? Opening ceremony ? Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium - Pyeongchang, South Korea ? February 9, 2018 - A volunteer carries the flag of the Olympic Athletes from Russia. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics ? Opening ceremony ? Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium - Pyeongchang, South Korea ? February 9, 2018 - Olympic Athletes from Russia parade during the opening ceremony. REUTERS/Pawel Kopczynski
Olympic Athletes from Russia (OAR) parade during the opening ceremony of the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Pyeongchang Stadium on February 9, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / POOL AND AFP PHOTO / Martin BUREAU (Photo credit should read MARTIN BUREAU/AFP/Getty Images)
Olympic Athletes from Russia (OAR) parade during the opening ceremony of the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Pyeongchang Stadium on February 9, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV (Photo credit should read KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 09: Members of Olympic Athletes from Russia during the Opening Ceremony of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at PyeongChang Olympic Stadium on February 9, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG, SOUTH KOREA FEBRUARY 9, 2018: A volunteer carries the Olympic flag as Olympic Athletes from Russia take part in the Parade of Nations at the opening ceremony of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium. Valery Sharifulin/TASS (Photo by Valery Sharifulin\TASS via Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG, SOUTH KOREA FEBRUARY 9, 2018: Spectators hold cards reading' Go, Russia' during the opening ceremony of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium. Valery Sharifulin/TASS (Photo by Valery Sharifulin\TASS via Getty Images)
The Olympic Athletes from Russia delegation parades during the opening ceremony of the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Pyeongchang Stadium on February 9, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / Sean M. Haffey (Photo credit should read SEAN M. HAFFEY/AFP/Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG, SOUTH KOREA FEBRUARY 9, 2018: Olympic Athletes from Russia take part in the Parade of Nations at the opening ceremony of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium. Valery Sharifulin/TASS (Photo by Valery Sharifulin\TASS via Getty Images)
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The inclusion of so many Russian athletes has caused some to criticize the IOC for failing to truly come down on the Russians for a widespread, state-sponsored doping scheme.

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