SOCHI, Russia (AP) — The IOC's reluctance to allow competitors to wear black arm bands, or any other individual badge, to honor fallen loved ones might seem on the surface to be insensitive. That's hardly the intent, the Olympic committee says.

Athletes the world over have routinely worn some kind of arm band, jersey patch or decal to pay tribute when someone close to them dies. Many use it as a way to shine a bit of light on a dark situation, to make sure that others mourning the loss can see that they are in their hearts and on their minds.

At the Sochi Games, the IOC has reprimanded Norwegian competitors for wearing an arm band to honor a family member of one of the athletes and told Australian snowboarder Torah Bright she could not wear a sticker on her helmet in memory of snowboarder Sarah Burke, who died in 2012.

On Wednesday, Ukraine officials said the IOC denied them permission to wear arm bands to honor those killed in a clash between anti-government protesters and police in Kiev. IOC spokesman Mark Adams says that they never made a firm denial and that Ukrainian officials decided on their own to make a different gesture before it got to that point.

But either way, Adams says the IOC isn't trying to appear cold or insensitive.

"We try to concentrate on the sport. There are 2,800 athletes here," he said. "As you can imagine, there are a lot, sadly, a lot of people with personal tragedy in their lives. Some with big political tragedies, some with personal tragedies, friends, loved ones, some athletes, some nonathletes. The idea is to try to help them to find other ways, individual or collectively, to mark those moments."

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

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