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SBD Global/February 20, 2014/Olympics

IOC Bans Ukraine's Athletes From Wearing Black Armbands At Sochi Olympics

The IOC has banned Ukrainian competitors at the Sochi Olympics from wearing black armbands "to commemorate the deaths of protesters and police in Kiev," according to Shaun Walker of the London GUARDIAN. The country's Olympic association said in a statement it had asked the IOC if its competitors could mark the "deep pain over the loss of fellow countrymen" by wearing black armbands. The statement read, "The answer was received from the IOC that in accordance with the Olympic charter it is not possible to do this." Sponsor logos "are everywhere at the Olympics," but the IOC "regularly bans anything it deems to be political." It has also "banned helmet sticker tributes" to skier Sarah Burke, who died in a '12 accident, at Sochi. Ukraine pole vaulter Sergey Bubka, the leader of his country's delegation to Sochi, "appealed on his Twitter account to both sides to stop the violence." Bubka wrote, "I want to bring Olympic truce to my country. Dialogue is power, violence is weakness." IOC spokesperson Mark Adams reiterated on Wednesday that "there was no place for political protests at the Olympics." He also "criticised the Italian transgender former MP, Vladimir Luxuria, who has been detained twice," once for displaying a rainbow flag that read "Gay is OK", and again for wearing a rainbow outfit inside one of the Olympic venues. Adams: "She explicitly had said that she would demonstrate in a venue and clearly venues are not the place where we would like to have political demonstration" (GUARDIAN, 2/19).

QUEST FOR PEACE: REUTERS reported Russia demanded that Ukrainian opposition leaders "stop the bloodshed" in Kiev on Wednesday, and said that Moscow "would use all its influence to bring peace to its 'friendly brother state.'" Threatened demonstrations "have been few and far between" during the Olympics, although protest group Pussy Riot "did crash the Olympic party briefly on Tuesday when they were detained for several hours at a Sochi police station" (REUTERS, 2/19).
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