Saturday, May 21

The government withdraws its support for the X Games: – Comes completely out of the blue

There is a full clinch between X Games Norway and the government. The reason: The previous government promised the organizer full support. The new government has withdrawn this support.

NO REPRESENTATION? Marcus Kleveland made his childhood dream come true when X Games came to Norway in 2016, here he is from the 2017 edition at Hafjell. In 2021 and 22, the X Games have been canceled due to the corona pandemic. Now the question is whether there will be something in 2023 as well, but for completely different reasons.

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In a letter VG has had access to addressed from the Ministry of Culture and Gender Equality to X Games Norway, it appears that the money the organizer was promised by the Solberg government has been deducted from the state budget.

– If there are no funds, then there will be no X Games in Norway, that’s how it is, says X Games manager Henning Andersen to VG.

He is the leader of Sahr, the company that on behalf of Disney-owned ESPN for many years has organized the X Games in Norway.

As late as June 2021 could VG write that X Games had been granted 13 million by the then Minister of Culture Abid Raja (V) to carry out the internationally prestigious event in 2022.

Not only that – Raja also promised that X Games (and Ekstremsportveko in Voss) would become “permanent grant recipients in the state budget”.

– But then came the omikron, says Andersen.

Withdraws Raja promises

The new measures slowed down the plan for a grand X Games this year, but the plan was to instead arrange a qualifying race for the 2023-X Games.

Thought they.

The new government has now withdrawn the money Raja promised, and at the same time announces that the government “will not prioritize grants for the X Games’ proposal for the budget for 2023”. In the same letter, the Ministry of Culture requests that X Games use the remaining money from 2021 to arrange the qualifying race at Dombås in four weeks.

But after that, there is a stop to the money.

– This is what we do not understand, and what Minister of Culture Anette Trettebergstuen (Labor Party) must answer. They ask us to create the qualifiers for young talents who have a dream of qualifying for the X Games. Why should they come here now, and participate in a qualifier for an event the government will not support? asks the X Games boss.

In a open letter to the Minister of Culture, Andersen asks why they should now invite to a “meaningless” qualification.

– If X Games themselves think there is no point in carrying out events in 2022 that they have applied for money for, because they have not secured money in 2023, it is something they must decide for themselves, writes Minister of Culture Anette Trettebergstuen in an e-mail to VG.

CONFUSED: X Games boss Henning Andersen does not understand the government’s desire.

Believes “fixed mail” never existed

In addition, the Minister of Culture claims that no one has been given a “permanent place” in the state budget, even though this is written in the proposal for the state budget for 2022.

“The government proposes to continue subsidies to X Games (…) so that they become permanent recipients of subsidies in the state budget. This provides predictability for the organizers as long-term, regular recipients of the state budget, and helps to ensure that the events consolidate their important role nationally and internationally », it says in the document from October 2021, adopted in December.

– So it comes completely out of the blue. It would also have been more gentle and responsible to remove the permanent post over several years, says Andersen.

The qualification at Dombås (snowboard and freeski) is scheduled to start in early March. Invitations have not yet been sent out pending the government’s decision, but a dozen Norwegian and international athletes aged 16 to 25 are ready to go to Dombås at their own expense at short notice to follow the X Games dream.

According to Andersen, the Ministry of Culture has received thorough information about the format of the qualification.

– So we do not understand how they may have misunderstood. Does the Norwegian government think that we should seduce such young, hopeful people in that way?

– I think it is neat that we already say that they can not count on support for next year, which gives them a good opportunity to find other sources of funding, Trettebergstuen answers.

DRAWING THE SUPPORT: Anette Trettebergstuen does not pick up the baton of former Minister of Culture Abid Raja, and will withdraw the support for the X Games.

– Depending on public support

– We think that will be a very easy answer. X Games in Norway has always been dependent on public funding, and that is how it will be. Now we have to talk to all the performers and all the parties in the event to see what we do. It is not a decision I can make now, says Andersen.

X Games has since the first historic event in 2016 leaned on public support. Well over 60 percent of the budget has been publicly funded. Now the government believes that it is the American media house ESPN, which broadcasts X Games in the US, which must take its share of the bill, as they have “a value of one third of the entire Norwegian state budget for 2022”, writes Trettebergstuen.

– After several years of support, we believe it is time to prioritize differently. When ESPN organizes elsewhere in the world, it is mainly funded by commercial sponsors. We hope they will be willing to do that in Norway as well, without money from Norwegian grassroots sports, she says.

The organizer has been waiting for a response from the government since last autumn, and when it really started to rush last week, they were told by phone that it was just to start with snow production at Dombås, when the the event was not in jeopardy.

– So they almost have to answer what they have in mind, Andersen says.

– X Games and ESPN must themselves consider whether they will implement in Norway, on the same terms as they do in other countries, without public support. X Games has received significant Norwegian support for many years, the Norwegian ski community is a world leader and I hope that such a large commercial event will still find it interesting for the sport to have events in Norway, says Trettebergstuen.

This is not the first bad news for Norwegian snowboarders and freeskiers. In January, the board association lost all its sponsors.

– X Games is the only international competition these athletes have in Norway. I think it’s extra tough when they first lose the sponsors, then they lose the event. What do they have left then?

Acting mayor of Dovre municipality Guri Ruste has also sent a letter to the Minister of Culture in which they write that they see “with great concern the challenges X Games Norway is now struggling with”, and say they support the organizing company Sahr.

Even if the government were to stand by the decision to cut the funds for the X Games, the Storting can still “save” the event, as it is they who have the last word. Then, however, the time will probably be too short to arrange the qualification at Dombås.

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