As early as December 22, Sports President Berit Kjøll and Secretary General Karen Kvalevåg were briefed on the Olympic Summit’s decision that Paralympics athletes should not receive scholarships.
This emerges from a longer answer that Secretary General Karen Kvalevåg has sent to VG – to our question about who knew what when.
Further down in the case comes the entire answer from Kvalevåg, where she “strongly apologizes” that para-practitioners did not receive scholarships and that they are now in the process of correcting this.
The case exploded in public on Friday when it emerged from a press release that the Kjell Inge Røkke-initiated Foundation VI had broken with the Olympic Summit and NIF as a result of the para-athletes not receiving individual scholarships from Abid Raja’s Tokyo pot (as a result of the games being postponed from 2020 to 2021).
Røkke and Kjøll, as well as Aker’s CEO Øivind Eriksen, are in dialogue to resolve this conflict, which is extremely important for sports for the disabled – because Stiftelsen VI contributes NOK 125 million over five years.
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Kvalevåg emphasizes to VG that the allocation of the Tokyo funds had no intention of downgrading the para-athletes.
In a press release at the end of January, Olympiatoppen explained the reason why para-athletes did not receive money: Because they receive scholarships from the VI Foundation.
Last Friday, Olympiatoppen and NIF admitted in a new press release that they have missed sharply.
It happened after Foundation VI had decided to terminate the agreement with the Norwegian Sports Confederation at the Olympic Summit.
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It now appears that both sports president Kjøll and general secretary Kvalevåg both received a briefing from top sports manager Tore Øvrebø about their decision already on 22 December.
Several athletes tell VG that they became aware of the decision on December 23, ie Christmas Eve. The reasons for the decision were not posted on the Norwegian Sports Confederation’s website until 27 January.
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Karen Kvalevåg has sent VG this written answer on Tuesday:
“First of all, I would like to strongly deplore the situation that has arisen. The award criteria have been perceived as a downgrading of para-athletes in our organization. That has never been the intention.
In line with established administrative structures, the decision was made by the OCTs, in close interaction with sports and administrative management in the special federations. In this allocation, the practitioners with the lowest income and greatest liquidity challenges were given priority. Award routines for athlete scholarships are handled at the administrative level in NIF at the Olympic Summit.
The Secretary General of NIF and the President of Sports received by e-mail on 22 December a briefing on the OCTs’ decision on the allocation of extraordinary funds from the Ministry of Culture. “
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The Secretary General explains the reason why they applied to the Ministry of Culture and Abid Raja for extra funds:
«NIF applied for these extra funds from the Ministry of Culture to ensure that the competitiveness of the teams and athletes in the Olympics and Paralympics would not suffer due to extra costs as a result of the postponement of the Olympics and PL in Tokyo. Most of the cost increase is related to the special federations’ operation of Olympic and Paralympic national teams – including coaches and support staff. 80 per cent, or 15 million of the first allocation, from the Ministry of Culture is therefore distributed directly to the special unions. NOK 5.5 million, which was allocated from the state budget in 2020, was earmarked for athlete scholarships for low-income Olympic athletes.
In retrospect, NIF acknowledges that the decision on the award of executive scholarships should have been considered differently. We sincerely regret that. This error is now being corrected, and we are paying out legitimate athlete scholarships, also to Paralympic athletes.
We will continue, and strengthen our targeted work to give paired athletes equal opportunities to invest and perform on an equal footing with able-bodied athletes. “
The press release last Friday revealed who had made the decision:
“The process of award assessments has been led by top sports manager Tore Øvrebø, para sports manager and Head of Mission for the squad for the Paralympics in Tokyo, Cato Zahl Pedersen, and summer sports manager Marit Breivik, in close collaboration with the sports managers and national teams.”