IOC bans memorial stickers for the late Sarah Burke

Sam Cooper
February 10, 2014
Around the Games: Day 3 - 2014 Winter Olympic Games
SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 10: Torah Bright of Australia rides down the pipe after crashing during Snowboard Halfpipe practice during day 3 of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park on February 10, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Australian snowboarder Torah Bright and Canadian skier Roz Groenewoud hoped to honor the late Sarah Burke -- a Canadian skier who died in an accident in Utah in 2012 – by wearing stickers on their helmets, but the International Olympic Committee struck the idea down on Monday.

“I ride with a Sarah sticker on my snowboard and helmet always,” Bright wrote on her Instagram account. “The IOC however, consider 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.”

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According to the Toronto Star, the IOC made its decision earlier in the month and based it on the Olympic Charter. The Olympic Charter bans “publicity or propaganda, commercial or otherwise” from appearing on athletic clothing or gear.  

Burke and Groenewoud would have worn “Celebrate Sarah” stickers, but the IOC said no, and frankly, the organization’s explanation doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.


“On Sarah Burke, we have, as with a lot of the athletes here, huge sympathy,” said IOC spokesman Mark Adams. “She really needs to be well remembered, I think, and absolutely, we want to help the athletes to remember her in some way and there are all sorts of things we can do."

“We would, for example, help them if they wanted to have a press conference. They can obviously talk about her in various places. We can organize something in the Multi Faith Centre, either individually or collectively. We really feel that, and we really think she is an important person to be remembered.”

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“It is not the rule that really is very important at all actually,” said Adams. “In cases like this rules are not the most important thing. For us it is a question of what is appropriate, and where would be the best place. As I say, we are very keen to help people who want to have a remembrance or do something and to do that in what would be the appropriate place.”

“I think just the general idea is that we want people to remember her, and we don’t think that in a competition, in the excitement and the celebration of a competition, is necessarily the right place,” said Adams. “We think that it’s a celebration place, and we don’t think that that’s the right place.”

Burke’s father, Gord, offered a subdued response when he learned of the IOC’s decision.

“I’m looking at the big picture,” he told the Midland Mirror. “To me, it isn’t that big a deal. I know there are thousands and thousands of people who always cared about Sarah, and so that is what is important to remember.”

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Anger about the ruling has been circulating on social media, and Gord Burke was appreciative of the support for his daughter.

“I know Sarah is going to be in the hearts and minds of the people, including the athletes skiing in Sochi and all those who knew and cared about her,” he said. “It shows people cared, and still care, about Sarah and want to see her memory kept alive."

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