A supporter waves a Russian flag in front of the headquarters of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

A supporter waves a Russian flag in front of the headquarters of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

In both winter and summer, the most popular event in every Olympic Games is the biathlon of sports and politics.

But there won’t be sports or politics for Russia at next year’s Olympics. There won’t be any Russia at all. The International Olympic Committee has banned Russia from the 2018 Winter Games over a state-backed doping scheme.

“The country’s government officials are forbidden to attend, its flag will not be displayed at the opening ceremony and its anthem will not sound,” reports the New York Times. Russian athletes, if they are allowed to compete, will wear neutral uniforms.

Cold.

The ban is a blow not just to Russia’s medal count (it will be zero), but to the nation’s pride. The I.O.C.is testing Moscow’s mettle at a time when Russia’s role in the world order is more contentious than it’s been in years.

We look at how nations have slalomed between athleticism and statecraft in an effort to become the true lord of the rings.

Guests

  • David Wallechinsky President, International Society of Olympic Historians; @ISOHOlympic
  • Thomas Hunt Associate professor, Department of Kinesiology and Health Education, University of Texas at Austin; author of Drug Games: The International Olympic Committee and the Politics of Doping, 1960-2008
  • Nancy Armour Columnist, USA Today Sports; @nrarmour
  • Edward Lozansky President, American University in Moscow; professor, National Research Nuclear University and Moscow State University

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