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TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's national hockey teams will have to wear redesigned sweaters when the country hosts the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, after the International Olympic Committee said it would now enforce rules regarding logos on jerseys.
The Canadian men's and women's hockey teams have been wearing jerseys showing the crest of Hockey Canada -- a hockey player framed inside a red and black Maple Leaf -- even though it was in contravention of Olympic rules forbidding sports federations from displaying their logos on Olympic jerseys.
"Within the context of Canadian sport there is no doubt that the Hockey Canada logo is iconic in Canada ... as are the logos of many other sports within the framework of their sport environment as well," Chris Rudge, chief executive of the Canadian Olympic Committee, told Reuters.
"I know it's an emotional issue for many people."
The well-known logo is also considered an important fund-raiser for Hockey Canada, the sports national governing body, and its programs.
Hockey Canada was forced to change the jerseys after the COC said it would uphold the rules of the IOC which affect all Olympic teams.
The IOC had granted exemptions in past Winter Olympics, allowing Canadian teams to wear the distinctive Hockey Canada crest on their jerseys.
The IOC stepped up enforcement during the Summer Games in Beijing, when it restricted what the Brazilian and Argentine soccer teams could wear on their uniforms.
The rules do not apply to competitions outside the Olympic Games, such as the World Cup of Hockey.
Hockey Canada president Bob Nicholson said the decision was disappointing, noting that the emblem has become synonymous with the sport in Canada and around the world.
"I think if you walk down the streets of Canada, it will tell you what it means. That is hockey in our country," Nicholson said.
Reporting by Scott Anderson; editing by Rob Wilson