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Archive for Tuesday, February 19, 2002

t use sled with WTC tribute

February 19, 2002

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— New York City paramedic Michael Voudouris will be speeding down the skeleton chute at the Olympics. The Twin Towers won't make the trip with him.

Voudouris, who has dual citizenship and competes for Greece, said Monday the International Bobsled Federation rejected his request to race with a picture of the towers and other memorials on the bottom of his sled.

"They said, 'That's not allowed. That's a political statement,"' he explained.

Voudouris, 41st on the World Cup tour last season, approached federation officials "as a courtesy" after arriving at the Olympics and mentioned the World Trade Center picture.

"They quoted IOC rule No. 61," Voudouris said. "I don't know what the small print says, but it has to do with the placement of personal decals."

In the Olympic Charter, the rule states: "No kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in the Olympic areas."

So Voudouris stashed his sled in his room and borrowed a modern, more expensive model from U.S. racer Trevor Christie, who didn't qualify for the Olympic team.

"It was like going from a Volkswagen to a Maserati," Voudouris said.

Meanwhile, Voudouris appealed the decision to the International Olympic Committee and expects to know more before Wednesday's races. The IOC bowed to public pressure and allowed American athletes to carry a flag from the World Trade Center at the opening ceremony on Feb. 8.

"They have already honored the people from ground zero in the opening ceremonies with the flag," said International Bobsled Federation spokeswoman Ingeborg Kollbach.

The bobsled federation doesn't want "any part of a controversy," Kollbach said. The sport, where athletes race facefirst down a bobsled track, is returning to the Olympics for the first time since 1948.

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