2018 Winter Olympics: What country is OAR, and how are its athletes winning medals?

If the doubles luge isn't the most confusing thing at the 2018 Winter Olympics, then it most certainly is "OAR." You probably know OAR is being represented in Pyeongchang and even winning medals in South Korea. But what is it, actually? Glad you asked. We're here to help.

OAR just so happens to be a country you've already heard of ... in disguise. It's the Russians!

Even though Russia is banned from the 2018 Winter Olympics as a result of its alleged state-backed doping program, which helped hide test results from hundreds of athletes using performance-enhancing drugs, the International Olympic Committee granted some of the country's athletes -- more than 100 of them, in total -- "special dispensation" to compete.

The only catch? They are not permitted to represent Russia's flag or colors in any way, and they are forced to do so without any ability to earn Russia an official medal.

An IOC panel announced in December complete guidelines for any participating Russians, including the "OAR" logo for the neutral uniforms, plus plenty of restrictions pertaining to what can and cannot be worn in Pyeongchang.

russia.jpg
Russia can't win Olympic medals as a nation but Olympic athletes from Russia can.  USATSI

As reported by NPR's Bill Chappell at the time, the complete list of uniform guidelines includes the generic logo and puts plenty of emphasis on keeping the word "Russia" the same size as all other uniform lettering: 

1. Athletes' uniforms (Ceremonies, competition, training and casual), accessories and equipment can only have two types of wordmarks: "OAR" and/or "Olympic Athlete from Russia".

2. Officials' uniforms (Ceremonies, competition, training and casual) and accessories can only have one type of wordmark: "OAR".

3. "Olympic Athlete from Russia" - Print size for words "Olympic Athlete from" should be equivalent to the word "Russia" and above the word Russia. The size of these words should be proportional to the area in which they are placed and will require individual approvals from the IOC.

4. Wordmark fonts should be in English and as generic as possible.

The Olympic Athlete from Russia invitation review panel, which determined which athletes were eligible to compete under neutral colors in February, met in December to "make sure that each individual Olympic athlete from Russia can be considered clean" after the widespread doping allegations.

More than two dozen Russian athletes had already been banned from the Winter Games before Russia itself was outright stripped of 2018 eligibility. The IOC's decision followed a November claim by the World Anti-Doping Agency that Russia had been non-compliant in anti-doping standards, meaning they allowed hundreds to skirt rules on performance-enhancing drugs.

Our Latest Stories