SOCHI, RUSSIA – Ukraine’s Olympic Committee said the IOC has rejected a request for its athletes at the Sochi Games to wear black armbands honoring those who died in violent protests in Kiev.
The committee stated on its website it wants to “share deep pain over the loss of fellow countrymen” and wear armbands as an “expression of sorrow and sympathy.”
The committee said the IOC replied that this was “impossible according to the Olympic Charter.” The IOC reprimanded Norwegian cross-country skiers earlier in the games for wearing black armbands in tribute to an athlete’s brother.
The violence in Ukraine between riot police and protesters has left at least 25 people dead and 241 injured. The Ukrainian delegation in Sochi is led by Sergei Bubka, the Olympic pole vault great who has urged both sides to lay down their weapons.
Bubka, a Ukrainian who won gold for the Soviet Union at the 1988 Olympics, now heads Ukraine’s Olympic Committee and is one of the best known figures in the country.
“I’m shocked by what is happening in my native country — especially because the violence is taking place during the Olympic Games,” said Bubka in a statement on his website.
“There is no ‘their’ Ukraine, or ‘your’ Ukraine. It is our Ukraine. For the sake of the future of our kids let’s do everything possible to get back to negotiations and make a compromise,” he added.
Bubka, who is usually careful to steer clear of politics in public, said that he was prepared to do anything he could to restore peace.
Bubka said that there was still a chance for a peaceful solution and urged an “Olympic truce” to be imposed immediately to end the violence.
“Let’s not lose this opportunity,” he said.