Norway’s government minister in charge of sports and culture has decided not to travel to the Winter Olympics in Beijing, in a move widely viewed as a sign of her concern over the lack of human rights in China. Norwegian football officials, however, have opted to travel to Qatar this month, claiming it would present an opportunity to challenge officials there over human rights abuses.
It’s a paradox, since Norwegian skiers and other winter sports athletes are expected to do well at the Olympics once again, while Norway’s national men’s football team failed to qualify for the football World Cup in Qatar.
Sports and Culture Minister Anette Trettebergstuen has decided to accept an invitation from Norway’s own athletics organization to attend the Paralympics that will follow the Olympics in China, in an effort “to put the spotlight on a group of athletes who to the highest degree live up to Olympic ideals.” She also promised to take up sensitive political issues with Chinese authorities while there.
Leader of Norway’s national football federation NFF promised to do the same in Qatar, although their trip is still being criticized, especially after two journalists for Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) were recently arrested in Qatar as was another just days later. The football bureaucrats claimed they would be meeting representatives of the authorities in Qatar, the World Cup committee and migrant workers who’ve been among those suffering most in the run-up to the World Cup. Proposed boycotts of both the Beijing Olympics and the World Cup have been turned down Norway, but only after heated debate.