At least 25 were killed and hundreds injured yesterday as Kiev protests flared into violence. With casualties on both sides, what could be more apolitical than Ukrainian Olympic athletes donning black armbands to honor the dead? It's not a protest, it's a commemoration—and it's too much of a statement for the IOC's liking.
The Ukraine Olympic Committee said this morning that it "shares deep pain over the loss of fellow countrymen," and requested permission for its athletes to wear black armbands as an "expression of sorrow and sympathy."
The IOC said no, citing the Olympic charter which bans political statements of any kind. Their definition of "political" is expansive—The IOC already nixed stickers honoring the late Canadian skier Sarah Burke, and reprimanded Norwegian skiers for wearing black armbands commemorating the death of a teammate's brother.
The Ukrainians could just wear the armbands anyway and accept the consequences. They've already got the turmoil in their homeland on their minds anyway.
"Yes it's a distraction, everyone's talking about it–even just now at the start, at the finish, people are saying 'what's happened in your country, what's happened?'" said Dmytro Mytsak, 18, a giant slalom skier from Kiev.