Development aid or euthanasia?: The North trembles together for their future

Development aid or euthanasia?
The Nordic countries together tremble for their future

By Louis Holloch

The Nordic Combined is one of six disciplines that have always been a part of the Winter Olympics. But will it stay that way? A historic decision at the end of June, no less than their very existence.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has put equality on its agenda and wants all disciplines to have both men’s and women’s competitions at the Olympics. The Nordic group combined have been an exception so far, after all, only men have been allowed to participate in 40 medal decisions in the 24 editions of the games so far. As has learned, the “unique selling point” of this system can be fatal. On June 24, the International Olympic Committee will vote on whether participating women are allowed to go to the 2026 Olympics. In its own way, the potential voting outcomes will have a major impact on discipline.

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Scenario (1), the women’s makeup enters the Olympic program: In 2016, the International Federation of Skiing and Snowboarding (FIS) adopted a strategy paper aimed at getting women into the Olympic program as early as 2022. The fact that this goal was not achieved was a bitter blow. But those responsible for race director Lasse Ottesen continued to work tirelessly and achieved the remaining goals of the roadmap: bringing together the women in the program of the World Junior Championships since 2019, the first World Cup was held in December 2020 and in 2021 in Oberstdorf for the first time for medals in the Nordic event She competed in the World Figure Skating Championships.

DSV athlete Svenja Worth, who took part in the premiere of the World Cup and the World Championships, emphasized the importance of its inclusion in the Olympic program: “We will have completely different options, only in terms of financing, if the discipline becomes Olympic.” At the same time, she appealed to look beyond the status quo: “A lot can develop in the four years until the next matches, you have to keep that in mind when making the decision, even if it has already been taken.”

Scenario (II), the Nordic Combined is in danger of extinction – not just at the Olympics: The lack of renewed admission to the Olympic program poses a real threat to the Nordic countries as a whole, after all, given the aforementioned IOC agenda, it is highly questionable whether they will also be Olympic after 2026 if women are not accepted again. Seven-time world champion Eric Frenzel clearly criticized this fact in an interview with “I find it very sad that these considerations are taken at all. For me, tradition is part of the sport and our sport is pure tradition.”

Losing this situation would counteract all previous attempts at building by the FIS and the national associations and would also have serious consequences for the basis of discipline: it would be very difficult for the FIS to ensure the continued existence of the World Cup. Sponsors and organizers will withdraw from the competitions, along with the media presence, especially through television broadcasts. It would also be a severe cutoff for athletes: With competitions canceled, the small prize money will already disappear and “sooner or later, the pool will not be used anymore,” Frenzel warned.

On June 24, the International Olympic Committee will decide whether to provide development aid or whether to bury a core discipline of winter sports along with the idea of ​​equal rights.

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