The legendary Norwegian unexpectedly stood up for Russia. A brave athlete sacrificed his career

Various kinds of sanctions against Russian athletes over the past year and a half have become routine. And not only for our team, but also for Western sports authorities, where prohibitive decisions have long been a means of building a career.

However, among the many officials was a man who did not want to play dirty political games and defiantly left the Olympic Committee due to Russia’s exclusion.

Incredibly bold decision for today’s times.

“The decision is against my values”

Oyvind Waterdal is considered a living legend of Norwegian sport: he is 8 times national champion in ski orienteering, a very popular discipline in Scandinavia. In total, he has 19 medals in national championships. His last victory came in 2019: then he won gold in the relay.

Already in 2013, Oyvind started his career in sports politics: he is the athletes’ representative at the Norwegian Olympic Committee (NOC), and in 2019 he was elected to the council. However, three years later, Vatterdahl sensationally left the organization due to the … suspension of Russian athletes.

Photo source: Norsk Orientering

My decision was made on the basis of the NOC’s request to ban Russian and Belarusian athletes from participating in competitions. This decision is in stark contrast to my values ​​and vision of what sport should be. I don’t want to be associated with him, so I’m resigning said the official.

Until recently, Oyvind served as chair of the athlete committee and deputy NOC, led by Olympic champion Astrid Jacobsen. Vatterdal was listed in the organization as a non-voting figurehead and was not a direct official, so his departure from office did not result in any radical changes in Norwegian sporting policy. However, these circumstances do not detract from the courage of the former athlete.

The athlete said that the last straw for him was the “bullying” of Russian Paralympic athletes:

Photo source: Norwegian NOC

It’s a terrible situation for any athlete to be suspended. The public pays us to compete, we have to show our skills. But many people on the executive committee act like politicians, and I only represent athletes, Vatterdal told Match TV.

First of all, the Norwegian left the board, but he kept his position on the athletes committee, but left it the following year.

Reaction in Russia

The heroic deed did not go unnoticed in Russia. Oyvind Vatterdal’s story hit the news several times and well-known sports personalities did not skimp on compliments to the former officer.

Tatyana Tarasova, Anfisa Reztsova, Veronika Stepanova only a partial list of famous athletes who have spoken out about the incident. However, Alexander Tikhonov shared the most striking opinion:

– This is a unique case. The Norwegian should be awarded the title of Hero of Russia. Moreover, Norwegians usually, on the contrary, make scandals and are dissatisfied with everything. I bow before him. These people should decide fate. He conveys my thanks to Vatterdal. This is the very first act of the Norwegians for as long as I live, – said the Olympic champion.


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