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.