Two American ice hockey players will keep Statue of Liberty images on their helmets after the International Olympic Committee blamed a “misunderstanding” for reports that they may have to be removed.
USA Hockey confirmed the images would remain on the helmets of goaltenders Nicole Hensley and Alex Rigsby for today’s faceoff against the Olympic Athletes from Russia at Kwandong Hockey Centre.
But the IOC also said they hadn’t asked for the images to be removed, contradicting American media who reported they may violate the Olympic body’s rules against political symbols.
“There seems to have been a misunderstanding,” an IOC statement said. “We have not asked for the symbol to be removed.”
IOC guidelines on authorised identification say no item can have national anthem words or lyrics, motivation words, political messaging or slogans related to national identity.
Hensley, who helped the US women capture the past two world championships, has a large Statue of Liberty image painted on the left side of her mask. Rigsby has one on the chin of her mask.
Neither has yet played for the Americans at Pyeongchang, as Maddie Rooney backstopped the US women to a 3-1 victory over Finland in their tournament opener.
US men’s goalie Ryan Zapolski said he faced many restrictions when looking at helmet designs.
“There are a lot of restrictions on that. This year we could not do much,” Zapolski said.
“I talked to the guy who painted it and we brainstormed for about a week and he gave me a sketch and I wanted a crest of the Stars and Stripes. It was pretty simple and goes well with our uniforms.”
On the ice, four-time defending champion Canada stretched their Olympic women’s hockey win streak to 22 games by thumping Finland 4-1.
Canada and the Americans would clinch semifinal berths if the US women defeat the Russians later.
Meghan Agosta and captain Marie-Phillip Poulin scored in the first period for Canada, and teammates Melodie Daoust and Jillian Saulnier followed in the second.
Finland’s Riikka Valila, at 44 the oldest player in Olympic hockey history, scored with 12:43 remaining to avert a shutout.
With a USA win later, the Olympic Athletes from Russia, Sweden, Switzerland and Finland would be set for matches to decide US and Canadian semifinal foes.