The State Department today warned American athletes not to wear US-branded apparel outside of the official Olympic venues while in Russia.
“The U.S. Department of State has advised that wearing conspicuous Team USA clothing in non-accredited areas may put your personal safety at greater risk,” says the memo, which was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. The memo details other steps that athletes can take to ensure their safety while in Sochi, including enrolling in a State Department traveler program. Greg Bretz, a snowboard half-pipe rider preparing for his second Olympics, said in an interview Thursday that U.S. Olympic officials “have told us not to wear our USA gear outside of the venues,” but added, “I have so much faith in the United States and our safety that I’m not too worried about it.” Officials caution athletes about safety at each Olympics, but the warning about Team USA gear seemed new to Bretz, who also competed four years ago in Vancouver and said he received no such warning then.
Earlier this month the State Department also issued a travel warning to all Americans traveling to Sochi.