Princess, government drop Paralympics

Neither Norway’s Princess Martha Louise nor members of the Norwegian Government will be traveling to Sochi, Russia after all this week, to represent Norway at the Paralympics. Many Norwegian athletes are already in Sochi, though, with the Paralympics due to get underway at the site of the recent Winter Olympics this weekend.

Norway’s Royal Palace had told news bureau NTB on Monday that Princess Martha Louise was set to travel as planned to the Paralympics from March 10-14. The situation changed on Tuesday.

“Based on advice from the government, it’s now been decided that the princess won’t be representing Norway at the Paralympics after all,” the Royal Palace wrote on its web site Tuesday afternoon.

The government has also decided that no cabinet ministers will be representing Norway  at the Paralympics in Russia either. Health Minister Bent Høie was planning to travel to Sochi and represent the government along with his husband, Dag Terje Solvang. The trip already was meant to be a not-so-subtle protest of Russia’s new anti-gay laws that inflamed gay-rights activists before the games and prompted official political objections as well.

Now the Norwegian government is clearly staying away from the Paralympics to protest the Russian military intervention and escalation in Ukraine, which continued to cause crisis and threaten the peace and security of all of Europe on Tuesday, according to NATO, of which Norway is a member.

“Given the situation now, it’s not natural for Norway to be represented at the Paralympics at the government level,” Norwegian Foreign Minister Børge Brende said Tuesday afternoon. Health Minister Bent Høie and his partner will now stay home, as will the princess, who has been a patron for several organizations for people with physical and mental challenges.  She’s been an active supporter of the Paralympics, as part of her work to encourage work and athletics for handicapped children and youth.

The Swedish and British royal families have also cancelled trips to the Paralympics but they’re still set to proceed. Athletes are in place and Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) has scheduled extensive coverage.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund