IOC releases curious 'independent' logo for Russian athletes

One of the sharpest cuts in the IOC’s decision to ban Russia from the 2018 Winter Olympics came from the decree that no Russian flags or anthems would be displayed during the Games. For a country deeply invested in national pride, the loss of that identity was a body blow.

But the IOC has released the new logo planned for Russian athletes who will compete in PyeongChang, and, well … the word “RUSSIA” is pretty obvious:

IOC’s logo for Russian athletes. (Via IOC)

That’s a stark difference from the “Independent Olympic Athlete” logo usually displayed by athletes from suspended nations. For instance, here’s Fehaid Al-Deehani, an independent athlete from Kuwait, who won a gold medal in trap shooting at the Rio Games. He’s flanked by athletes from Italy and Great Britain, whose national identities are plain to see:

Fehaid Al-Deehani (center) from suspended Kuwait in 2016. (Getty)

The logo, per IOC guidelines, must be of one color and can’t be combined with any other colors; it also can’t come anywhere close to Russia’s national colors. RUSSIA is present, yes, but it must be written in English.

It’s not an Olympic story without a healthy dose of rumor, speculation, and controversy, and the sentiment burbling around Olympic circles is that the Russian athletes’ logo is different because the IOC wants to keep Russia from boycotting the Games entirely. True or not, it’s indisputable that this is a different logo than we’ve seen before, which is only appropriate given that the Russian doping scandal is different from any other Olympic controversy we’ve ever seen before.

Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports and the author of EARNHARDT NATION, on sale now at Amazon or wherever books are sold. Contact him at or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.