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

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  • 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.

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.