– It is a thing that will roll up the closer we get, and something we will have to decide on, says the 24-year-old to NRK about next year’s Olympics in Beijing.
– I think we have to sit down the whole gang, as a team. Together with both coaches and support staff and connected. There is not one person who will go out and do something, we have to do it as a team. I think we will of course spend time on this in the weeks and months to come, Klæbo continues.
Earlier this year, Gudmund Skjeldal went out and warned the Norwegian winter stars that they can be used in a political game, and at the end of March, Ståle Solbakken went out and called for support from other sports, after the national football team has expressed its clear dissatisfaction that it upcoming world championships in Qatar.
– For me, sports and politics are connected. It’s not just in football. It has just been an Olympics in China, and there will be an Olympics in China. It can not be the case that the guys here have to carry the entire burden on their shoulders, said Solbakken.
Klæbo has seen the national football team’s markings in recent weeks, and he does not rule out that the cross-country team may come up with something similar.
– They take responsibility, and that is important, says the cross-country star about Martin Ødegaard and co.
– Will you follow up?
– There is probably a lot you can do. The most important thing is that you are reflected on it, and that we as a team are able to show what is important to us. What values we should stand for. That is what it is all about here, and we will of course spend time on that, says a committed Klæbo.
Teammate Therese Johaug has so far not reflected on the fact that the upcoming Olympic Games will be in a country that has many of the same human rights problems as Qatar.
– No, I have not thought about that much, to be honest, Johaug answers.
– I have to get more into it before I have to mean anything, she adds.
Top sports manager Tore Øvrebø has promised that the athletes will receive thorough information about what kind of country and regime they travel to, and that it is up to each individual athlete if they want to travel to China.
– We think it is good that the sport participates in events also in controversial regimes so that the spotlight comes on these regimes. Then practitioners, interest groups, politicians and others can use it to mark their views on what is happening in those countries, says Øvrebø.
At the same time, the head of top sports believes that the Olympic Summit should not take a position on how to deal with countries such as Qatar or China.
– We do not have a position in itself, because we believe freedom of expression applies to both the opportunity to express oneself and the opportunity to refrain from expressing oneself, says Øvrebø.
– Gets kind of wrong anyway
– Those who have a position that is completely correct, seen from a human rights perspective, they are doing something very good. At the same time, it’s a shame with the pressure on individual athletes when this is what you have trained for for 10 years. I have a lot more sense that they stand together on it.
This is what former top alpinist Aksel Lund Svindal says, who believes it is wrong to expect individual athletes to take a stand on issues where larger organizations should rather take the lead. He says that he reacted, among other things, to how active athletes received this type of question before the Olympics in Sochi in 2014.
– If the dream is to participate in the Olympics, you have qualified, you have trained all your life, and then none of the public or organizing bodies take a stand, but you as an athlete should somehow get the pressure on you alone. I thought that was a little unfair at the time, Svindal explains, and emphasizes that he is not talking about himself, but the athletes who were a little fresh.
The alpine legend is much more in favor of a team or a federation or a nation taking a common position.
– I think it is much better for the sport as a whole, and not least for the athletes, when you can take a stand together. Instead it should be up to each and every one. It kind of goes wrong anyway, Svindal concludes.
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