Norway and the Winter Olympics

Norway said no to arrange the Winter Olympics in 2022.

Why?

There are several and somewhat complicated reasons for this decision. I will try to clarify.

  • Values
  • Culture
  • Politics

VALUES

Let us start with the basics: The Oath for the athletes and the Olympic Charter which gives the IOC their mandate.

First, the Olympic Oath:

In the name of all the competitors I promise that we shall take part in these Olympic Games, respecting and abiding by the rules which govern them, committing ourselves to a sport without doping and without drugs, in the true spirit of sportsmanship, for the glory of sport and the honor of our teams[

Then parts of the Olympic Charter:

To promote a positive legacy from the Olympic Games to the host cities and host countries; To encourage and support initiatives blending sport with culture and education

To see the whole International Olympic Committee Charter, click here.

The IOC has a document, 7000 pages, with requirements to the arranging city. Admittedly, most of these are of a technical character, but then they present these demands:

  • A cocktail party with the King, paid by the King.
  • A special lane on all roads to the Olympic sites, solely for the members of the IOC, and the traffic lights should have a “green passage” for the IOC limousines.
  • A special reception (no passport control, customs etc.) at their arrival in Oslo; directly into a waiting limousine.
  • Food of high quality available at all times and places, and of course alcohol.
  • Physicians to be available, that is, with them, at all times.
  • The bars at their five + stars hotels to stay open longer than the Norwegian law allows.

There are several more, but let us take these now.

These demands collide heavily with the basic values of the Norwegian people.

Our basic value is equality; no person is better than others. People with a lot of money or power or both cannot throw their weight around without reactions from their community. An ostentatious display of money or power will be met by disgust, and if anybody oversteps the civic or legal boundaries, the punishment is harsh.

And here comes these members of the IOC and demand a cocktail party with our King, paid by the King……….. Nobody invites themselves to our King. The King invites, so who do these people think they are???

When you read the list of demands, it seems that they look upon themselves as kings or presidents, and demand to be treated as such. And, just as a reminder, they are in charge of arranging a sport event, the Winter Olympics.

We Norwegians were stunned. We could hardly believe what we read.

OUR CULTURE

Our values and culture are of course closely connected, but I will write something about how these values are implemented in the Norwegian people.

Norway is a fairly large country, area wise, at least in Europe. But our topography is very special. Deep long fjords, high mountains and thousands of islands and very harsh weather conditions have developed a country of very small communities spread over long distances.

If you check all the champion athletes of Norway through the ages, it is quite consistent that most of them come from small places. The reason is very simple. Growing up in these small villages, what is there to do in your free time as a child or teenager? The main answer: Sports, especially winter sports. One reason for that is that all it takes is snow and a pair of skies. Most small places don’t have facilities like a stadium or an ice hockey hall.

So, here comes the culture part. How are these small sports clubs organized? Simple: Volunteers. Not specifically Norwegian, but what is special for Norway is that there are so many of them and the villages, we call them just places, are so very small.

We are only just five million people spread over a large and tough country and there are thousands of volunteers taking care of our youngsters and creating great athletes.

Norway is a very rich country, but despite that, we have not been able to build enough infrastructure to meet the requirements of all the small places. There is a need for swimming halls, ice hockey halls, indoor football halls, track and field facilities and so forth.

So, why should Norway arrange a Winter Olympics, using billions of kroner on a trumped up event, lasting for some weeks, organized by a body of old men living in a dream bubble, their history of budget breaches and corruption………and in the end; the infrastructure stays in Oslo, leaving all the small places with nothing.

The unison answer was NO.

When that “NO” hit the IOC, they sent out a press release the same day. They accused Norwegian politicians and our people to be ignorant and had not understood the process. It was very defensive and condescending.

POLITICS

There were originally nine applicants for the arrangement of the winter Olympics in 2022.

Ukraine (Lviv), Germany (München), Switzerland (St. Moritz and Davos), Poland (Krakow), Sweden (Stockholm), Norway (Oslo), Kasakhstan (Almaty) and China (Beijing).

München, St. Moritz and Davos all said no after referendums.

So, then the IOC were left with seven. Lviv had to say no of obvious reasons, then Stockholm and Krakow declined and they were left with three: Oslo, Almaty and Beijing.

So, all the democratic countries have now said no. The IOC is left with two authoritarian states with a history of serious violation of human rights. If that does not worry them, they really have to rethink the focus and process of finding proper cities to arrange the Winter Olympics.

CONCLUSION

Norway said no because:

  • The Norwegian people said no.
  • A majority of people involved in sports, both professionals and volunteers, said no.
  • The Olympics has developed into a blown up, commercialized event, removed from the Olympic spirit, and managed by a bunch of old men living in a feudal world so removed from what the Olympics are about: “the true spirit of sportsmanship” that all the democratic nations said no.
  • The Norwegian politicians, in respect of the will of the Norwegian people, said no.
  • Some of the demands, quoted here, that the IOC presented to Norway, are so rude and ridiculous that they alone could induce a loud and clear NO from the Norwegian people.
  • The angry and condescending response from the IOC is a clear confirmation that our NO was right.
  • We can use all the billions earmarked for the Olympics to start a major project to improve the infrastructure for sports across all the small places of Norway… (Free quote of the Norwegian Prime Minister).

Our no is a clear danger sign for IOC. If they have any sense, they must realize that the overwhelming cost, the enormous budget breaches, the pompous behaviour of the IOC and the negative response from solid economies like Germany, Switzerland, Sweden and Norway is a clear message: Distrust.

They are now left with two authoritarian countries with serious human right issues. What does that tell them? Publicly they refuse to admit that this is a problem. If that is real, then they are really in trouble…….

If they don’t do something about the organization, cost level and the demands to the arraigning cities, AND refocus on what the Olympics is about, SPORTS, we can see the end of Winter Olympics.

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8 comments on “Norway and the Winter Olympics

  1. […] I thought these words of his, representing the feelings of many of his country, should have a place in my blog. And, if you’re interested in reading Jan’s full post, it’s published here. […]

  2. TanGental says:

    Hi Jan. I came here from Cindi’s blog where she reposted this. I will declare an interest: as a lawyer I worked for various London Olympic bodies on and off from 2004 to 2012. I am a sports nutLondon lover and was truly delighted we hosted the Olympics. I was also v conscious many Brits thought it a waste of money and the I O C the epitome of corruption. But and here is the big but even on that inside track I didn’t know the details of the bid document. And since reading your post and an article in the Sunday Times by David Walsh on this subject and Norways sensible No I ask myself how I would have reacted had all that been known and would the British love of sport combined with its enormous national ego have overcome what would have been an enormous outcry. And the answer to me is clear. We’d have given the IOC a proverbial two fingers. For we might be blinked and able to turn the most enormous blind eyes, we hate pomposity (odd in a class riden monarchy but true) and people taken the mickey. Norway did the right thing and I hope more nations follow suit.

    • Jan Eek says:

      Hi Geoff

      Thank you for your comment. Knowing the British fairly well, I think you are right. You would have said NO.

      One does not excite the Norwegians easily, but we are the most winning country within winter sports, and we were the IOC’s last hope. “A new Lillehammer!”, and we were proposing a very different, refocused and “down-to-earth” Olympics……But we demanded an open process where all IOC’s demands were made public. First they refused, and we said, “OK, then no Olympics in Norway”.- So they had to publish all their demands. And THAT got our viking blood boil!

      After several Winter Olympics with corruption, doping and that horrible Sochi disaster, and an IOC that was seriously outdated, the Norwegian people were luke warm, and when their insane demands hit us………..Game Over.

      I can add that their list of stupid demands are longer and ridiculous, like the temperature in meeting rooms, a limousine service 24/7, butlers(!!) and so on.

      • TanGental says:

        Yes it was ridiculous. Sadly I am pretty sure we just bowed our knee and did what they wanted. Well done for forcing open the boil. Let’s hope it begins to drain the infection.

  3. Lauren says:

    When Chicago wasn’t chosen for the ’16 Olympics, many were disappointed, but I was happy and relieved because of all of the IOC’s costs and demands. I don’t want any part of that. And when I heard Norway had said “no,” I really rejoiced. Maybe they’ll rethink their approach. Then again … no they won’t.

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