It’s official: There won’t be any Holmenkollen Ski Festival in Oslo this year, no World Cup ski jumping or cross country skiing in Lillehammer either, nor alpine races at Kvitfjell. Closed borders and strict Corona containment measures prompted sports bureaucrats to call it all off, even though Norwegian athletes are competing and winning at World Cup events held elsewhere.
“It’s very sad, but I’m not surprised,” Arild Monsen, coach of the Norwegian sprint team, told news bureau NTB. “I’m a realist and see how the world and Norway have to deal with this (the pandemic) and bring it to an end. So then athletics have a lower priority.”
Oslo’s city government leaders had objected loudly when state government leader earlier had stated they were open to allowing the World Cup events scheduled in Norway this season. The state later cracked down on new virus outbreaks, not least by closing borders. That made it impossible for the sports officials to plan for or guarantee entry for all the international participants involved.
It remains a paradox that World Cup events are still being held elsewhere in Europe, both skiing and skating, while Norway won’t allow them. Sports commentator Reidar Sollie noted in newspaper Dagsavisen, however, that “the short answer is that there’s a reason that both infection- and death rates are very low in Norway.” Norwegian athletes can compete abroad, just not at home. Football matches have also been cancelled along with most everything else. “The show will go on,” Sollie wrote, “but not in Norway.”