The IOC, in keeping with its policy of ensuring the Games remain apolitical, is banning athletes from wearing a sticker commemorating freestyle skier Sarah Burke, who died two years ago following a crash.
Burke was instrumental in getting ski halfpipe and slopestyle (both debuting this year) included on the Olympic agenda. However the IOC remains adamant about banning “political statements” during the Games.
“She really needs to be well remembered, I think, and absolutely, we want to help the athletes remember her in some way and there are all sorts of things we can do,” IOC spokesman Mark Adams said to The Globe and Mail. “From our side, we would say that the competitions themselves, which are a place of celebration, are probably not the right place to really do that and we like to keep that separate.”
Instead of wearing a commemorative sticker, Adams suggested the athletes hold a press conference in her honor. Understandably, the decision hasn't sat well with many of the athletes.
As Australian snowboarder Torah Bright wrote on Instagram: “I am also [at the Olympics] to honor by great friend Sarah Burke who left this world two years ago. I ride with a Sarah sticker on my snowboard and helmet always. The IOC, however, considers Sarah stickers a “political statement” and have banned them. WOW. Sarah is a beautiful, talented, powerful woman whose spirit inspires me still. She is a big reason why skier pipe/slope are now Olympic events.”
While a focus on the Games remains of the utmost importance to the IOC, it's doubtful the governing body will find many supporters of this decision.