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IOC: Black armbands, helmet stickers not allowed


SOCHI, Russia (AP) - The IOC is telling Olympic athletes they may not wear armbands or stickers during competition to commemorate the dead.

The Olympic body said Monday it sent a letter to Norwegian Olympic officials after four female cross-country wore black armbands in memory of an athlete's brother who died on the eve of the games.

The International Olympic Committee also told freestyle skiers not to wear stickers on their helmets in tribute to Canadian halfpipe skier Sarah Burke, who died after a crash in training two years ago.

"We would say the competitions themselves, which are a place of celebration, are probably not the right place to really do that," IOC spokesman Mark Adams said. "We would like to keep that separate."

Burke died Jan. 19, 2012, nine days after a training accident on a halfpipe in Park City, Utah. She was 29.

Burke lobbied hard for inclusion of all the freeskiing disciplines for women in the X Games and, ultimately, the Olympics. Some athletes had wanted to wear helmet stickers in tribute but were turned down by the IOC.

Adams said the IOC has "huge sympathy" for Burke and is willing to helping athletes remember her at news conferences or a ceremony at the multifaith center in the Olympic Village - but not at the competition sites.

"We really think she is an important person to be remembered," he said.

The Norwegians wore black armbands in Saturday's 15-kilometer skiathlon, the opening cross-country event of the games.

The Norwegian Olympic Committee received a letter from the IOC saying the gesture goes against rules which prohibit the wearing of messages on Olympic uniforms or equipment. The IOC told the Norwegians not to do it again.

Adams did not elaborate on the letter, saying that was "the end of the matter."

Inge Andersen, secretary general of the Norwegian Olympic Committee, said he was upset at the decision and planned to take the issue to the "highest levels" of the IOC.

"We want to discuss why the IOC don't want to let us go through this tragedy in a normal manner," he told The Associated Press. "That would be normal in every other society. It's about the Olympic movement. We are all human beings. We have to take care of each other."

The younger brother of Norwegian skier Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen, Sten Anders Jacobsen, died "suddenly and unexpectedly" on Friday, the Norwegian team said, without elaborating.

The next day, Marit Bjoergen won the skiathlon for her fourth Olympic gold medal, with teammates Heidi Weng taking the bronze and Therese Johaug finishing fourth. The four Norwegian teammates - including Kristin Stoermer Steira - all cried as they embraced each other after the race. Bjoergen and Weng wept on the podium during the flower ceremony.

The Norwegians said Monday they wouldn't wear the armbands again. Bjoergen said she didn't regret the decision to do so Saturday.

"It was worth it," she said.

Sten Anders Jacobsen was his sister's training partner, and was well known within the close-knit Norwegian team, which spends a large part of the year together.

Jacobsen has remained in Sochi and is to compete in the individual freestyle sprint Tuesday.

Andersen, the Norwegian Olympic official, said he wasn't told in advance about the athletes' plan to wear the armbands. But, had he been asked, "I would have said yes."

"This is a tragedy for the whole team," Andersen said. "It is only human that they must be allowed to show that. It is part of their therapy to show respect both for the sister of the brother who died and the boy who died."

The IOC has strict rules against protests or propaganda during competitions, outlawing any demonstrations in Olympic venues. The IOC worries that allowing someone to display messages not tied to the games would encourage others to use the Olympics for their own gain.

Gerhard Heiberg, a senior IOC member from Norway and the chairman of its marketing commission, said the IOC had to stick by its rules, otherwise it would open a precedent.

"But as a Norwegian," he told the AP, "I must say I have full understanding of what happened. These four girls in the race they were really concerned. They wanted to show their sympathy. As a person I have a full understanding for it, but as an IOC member I can see that the consequences are not good."

Join the discussion

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kostas February 10 2014 at 9:40 AM

I agree why they do this and its right. If not the athlete's will look like the race cars,
It might get to that point day, but if they can hold it off it would be great,

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bfgair February 10 2014 at 12:24 PM

I remember back in the day when Jon Claude Killy had to put tape across the tips of his skis to block out the trademark of the ski builder and ALL of the name brands of ALL of the equipment used had to be covered. The IOC would not permit and names of the equipment used to be displayed to prevent advertisments. The compeitors got around this by covering up the brand ID's with exact copies of tape to cover the brand ID's. a Rooster shaped piece of black tape covered the Rossignol brand which is a Rooster and so on.
Now days the equipment used is displayed openly by each and every competitor. I see no reason to prohibit the black arm bands or names of those that inspired the competitor or team. it is NOT to make money OR promote the equipment used or for any form of advertisment.
Once again it falls to the old saying "MONEY TALKS"

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2 replies
barryaclarke bfgair February 10 2014 at 1:26 PM

Hmmm, I wager next they'll band color schemes that identify different brands............

Flag Reply +2 rate up
mkg@uscga49.com bfgair February 10 2014 at 10:23 PM

My gosh, how old are you ?

Flag Reply 0 rate up
Peter and Rhoda February 10 2014 at 5:46 PM

Check the rule book and then complain if you can. I don't think you can.

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1 reply
cact25 Peter and Rhoda February 11 2014 at 1:02 AM

Ruels, especially this one need to be broken.

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newonc February 10 2014 at 11:17 AM

There are those that will say it is unfair while others will say it is the ruling of the IOC. If you understand why the ruling was made you cannot disagree. Like all things in life, there are many groups that will take advantage of this. It actually does not matter what country the games are in, the rules do not change

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1 reply
Hello Joe newonc February 10 2014 at 11:25 AM

You can look for and achieve reasons to do or not do anything, anal people do it all the time but there is no good reason for these athletes not to honor those they've lost in the manner that they are doing it. I do understand why the ruling was made, I just disagree with it.

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1 reply
palm2008 Hello Joe February 10 2014 at 12:34 PM

They show respect in the NFL, NHL and the rest of the sporting events. Do not think it detracts from the sport at all. Sarah Burke was a big part of the Canadian Olympic Team.

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Cindy February 10 2014 at 5:38 PM

I could understand them banning political or social statements, but there was no need to ban these items since they are not offensive.

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Squeek February 10 2014 at 11:36 AM

No one is ever happy.........there IS JUST NO PLEASING everyone...

Flag Reply +4 rate up
Shootrcurt February 10 2014 at 11:36 AM

who cares???Its all about money. Just compete.....and come home!!

Flag Reply +3 rate up
bob25 February 10 2014 at 12:28 PM

It is time for IOC to invest in permanent sites. The costs to build this structure is too high and they need some ownership. Then they could keep their antiqued rules.

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1 reply
bbhuey4213 bob25 February 10 2014 at 1:36 PM

Am not a huge fan of the olympics to begin with, but wholeheartedly agree that the billions spent to build these venues could be far better spent. But the cost isn't the first thing that it might be good to object to - I have an even greater problem with the notion of there being no IOC rules barring the host country from summarily evicting residents and buldozing their homes so that the sports complexes can be built.

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duncan651 February 10 2014 at 10:04 AM

You know it's funny a simple sticker to honor a fallen friend is considered inappropriate but the running political commentary on Putin and President Obama's comments before the opening ceremonies are not considered disrespectful to the spirit of the Olympics. Is anyone else tired of how everything in this world has become political?

Flag Reply +4 rate up
Jerry February 10 2014 at 7:09 PM

Wear the armbands, don't make a big deal about it. Fine, but why so much politics and dumb rules. I'm sick of pro sports, and these folks are pros.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
1 reply
HAT1701D Jerry February 11 2014 at 5:22 AM

Not all of them are. At one time, only non professionals were allowed to participate on the American teams...really not all that long ago.

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