Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen (36) has caused a rift in Sports Norway by pleading for a discussion on whether Russian and Belarusian athletes should be allowed to compete in the Olympics.
Now more people are reacting to this Uhrenholdt Jacobsen expressed it in a meeting with the IOC – as head of the Athletes’ Committee of the Norwegian Sports Confederation.
The purpose of the Athletes’ Committee is to represent the interests and views of elite athletes who participate in sports organized by sports clubs and special federations of the Norwegian Sports Confederation.
But top athletes say they were not contacted by the committee, not until Thursday – the day the row began with NRK learned that Uhrenholdt Jacobsen should have advocated the inclusion of Russian and Belarusian athletes.
The 36-year-old from Oslo retaliate against this request, claiming that she alone called for a discussion on the subject.
– If sport is to remain neutral and have zero tolerance against discrimination, athletes cannot be banned because of Russian passports. There are also human rights violations. What I did was plead for a discussion, she said.
Now, we are also wondering about the different roles of the former cross-country skier.
The 36-year-old has been an IOC member since being elected to the IOC Athletes’ Committee. She is also a member of two IOC commissions.
Rob Koehler sits in Canada. He worked for 17 years in close collaboration with the IOC, as part of the management of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). Today, Koehler leads the international athlete organization Global Athlete.
Koehler is convinced that since Jacobsen as an IOC member must sign the Olympic oath, she must support all decisions of the IOC leadership.
– It is sad that the IOC is once again using athletes as pawns in a political game to open up Russian participation. It is important to be aware that the IOC Athletes’ Commission is not independent, but very often has the task of executing orders that come from the IOC. Don’t blame Astrid, instead blame the IOC for putting her in this position, Koehler tells VG.
world athlete works, among other things, to promote the voice of international athletes. The organization receives financial support from FairSport, of which Johann Olav Koss is a member of the board.
VG has been in touch with Koss, who says he fully supports Koehler’s plan.
– I can’t comment on that, Uhrenholdt Jacobsen told VG when confronted with Koehler’s opinions.
– Why not?
– There are two different electoral processes. It is the regulation of sport that I am dealing with. But it’s not a problem for me not to be re-elected and also to resign if it comes from the athletes who think that I don’t deserve their confidence. Then they can also say it in the right channels.
She keeps :
– I feel no bitterness if this were to happen. Until now, it was more difficult to find athletes who were involved in Norwegian sports. In a way, it’s good if someone gets involved, wants to make a difference and wants to advocate for the rest. I have no personal ambitions, says Jacobsen.
– Did you feel a role conflict between the role of the IOC and that of the head of the Athletes’ Committee within the NIF?
– No I do not have. I do not receive directives from the IOC. If you want to discuss the two roles, I think you should familiarize yourself with what these roles mean first.
Rower Kjetil Borch tells NRK that “Astrid missed as much as possible”.
– If I am on the list of top athletes represented by the Athletes’ Committee, then they just have to delete me immediately, because that is beyond me. I want to encourage Astrid to find out what’s going on in high performance sport, says Borch.
Magnus Nedregotten, with silver and bronze in curling at the 2018 and 2022 Olympics, tells VG he understands Uhrenholdt Jacobsen’s attitudes.
He also works in the Norwegian Student Sports Association, which is a member of the NIF (Norwegian Sports Association). He believes Jacobsen’s views stem from the Olympic charter, which states that sport should be an arena free from politics.
He comments that she expressed herself as the head of the athlete committee of Norwegian sports as follows:
– I don’t know what other athletes she approached. After all, we have a common forum in Norwegian sports. Where, for example, you can vote for athletes in the sports award. There has been no joint investigation as to whether Russian participation is desired or not. Nor any sending questions about it in our sport. That can be questioned, he says.
Rob Koehler has no doubt that Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen would have been sidelined from the IOC had she not done what the IOC leadership wanted.
– The CIO is completely disconnected from reality and obviously lives in its own little bubble. They have also used the term “neutral athletes” in the past, only to find out that Russia is being renamed “Olympic Athletes from Russia,” he points out.
– The only viable path is to ban Russia from international sports and the Paris Olympics in 2024 until the country withdraws from Ukraine, he says.
Right-wing politician and former WADA vice-president Linda Hofstad Helleland believes the IOC is now using exactly the same recipe as when Russia was expected to return to good company after being exposed for systematic doping in connection with the Olympics from Sochi.
Helleland caught up with Uhrenholdt Jacobsen’s actions in the media over the past 24 hours.
– I think the Norwegian athletes and other sports enthusiasts in this country expect the Norwegian representatives of the IOC to come out clearly and make it clear to the IOC that it is out of the question to allow Russia to participate in new. It is incomprehensible that Norway – supposedly the compass of the IOC’s values - does not speak clearly.
– Uhrenholdt Jacobsen does not want to discriminate and thinks that excluding someone on the basis of which passport will be a violation of human rights?
– When you see the brutality that is currently taking place in Ukraine, the word “human rights” means something completely different from participating in a sports competition. It is incomprehensible to use this word in this context, believes Helleland.
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