Fidelity to fair play informs a Norwegian national passion for OL, the Olympic games, that embraces popular engagement, organizational skill, and athletic prowess. Yet dominance in ice-and-snow sport has siphoned attention from Norway’s initial Olympic engagements that, up to 1924, were summer only. These reflected an uneasy push-pull dynamic shaped by internal politics, socio-cultural traditions, and regional tensions. The nascent Olympic stage gave Norway, which split acrimoniously from Sweden in 1905, needed visibility in an age of ascendant nationalism. However, the elitist early modern Olympic world also clashed with egalitarian impulses and indigenous traditions that revered idræt, the vigorous but non-competitive pursuit of athletic endeavor. A wider values conflict was telescoped into the Norwegian debate during formative decades, while tensions with Sweden formed a little-known political backdrop to the 1912 Stockholm games. Only from the 1930s could Norway make peace with the Olympic project and forge its Hegelian-like postwar synthesis in which sporting professionalism has eclipsed yet not eradicated traditional idræt elements.

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