By Karolos Grohmann
VANCOUVER (Reuters) - Goalies for the U.S. hockey team competing in the Vancouver Games were forced to cover up slogans on their helmets to keep the field of play clean, the International Olympic Committee said on Tuesday.
Ice hockey goalies are known for customizing their masks with elaborate paint jobs to express their personality, but the IOC was not willing to alter its stance.
"The IOC looks after these issues," Mark Adams, a spokesman for the IOC, told reporters. "We have specific rules about a clean field of play."
The rules forced starting U.S. goalie Ryan Miller to remove the nickname 'Miller Time' from his mask since it is also serves as a popular beer slogan.
Team mate Jonathan Quick was told the 'Support Our Troops' slogan from his patriotic-themed mask violated Olympic rules on political propaganda and must be covered up.
Another U.S. goalie, Tim Thomas, had a sticker placed over a banned slogan on his mask during training on Monday.
In order to protect sponsors and keep the Games free of any political controversy, even spectators are not allowed to bring in flags and clothing that have political or corporate content.
Only flags of participating countries are allowed in the arenas. Even media are regularly told to cover up their logos on their laptops if they are not an official Games sponsor.
"We want to keep these other things out of the equation," Adams said.
Several netminders from different teams practicing at Canada Hockey Place on Monday were sporting masks with names of family members and friends painted on them which are also against IOC rules that state athletes cannot personalize equipment.
(Editing by Frank Pingue)