Norway stops sharing Olympic athletes’ weights to be sensitive to eating disorders


Source: Rob Schumacher/USA TODAY Sports

Weigh-ins and restricted diets are considered a normal part of athletics, especially for those elite few who get to compete at the Olympic level. It has just been accepted that athletes have their weights publicly available for everyone to see, theoretically to provide some sort of statistical comparison for matchups. One country, however, has broken that tradition to be more sensitive to those with eating disorders.

Norway has opted to withhold the weights of its athletes from publicly available Olympics data, saying they believe it puts the focus on the wrong thing.

“Focus on sport should be something else than weight,’’ Halvor Lea, spokesman for the Norway Olympic Committee, told USA TODAY Sports in an email, “and in a society with a lot of challenges regarding weight focus on young men and women, our choice is to drop to inform about athletes weight.”

Several Olympic athletes who have struggled with disordered eating and body image problems throughout their career say the pressure to maintain a specific weight contributed to their eating disorders.

It should be noted, countries are not required in any way to provide weight information to the official Olympic website.

Mark Adams, spokesperson for the International Olympic Committee (IOC), told USA TODAY he wasn’t aware of any official position on the matter.

“I don’t think we would take a view on that,’’ he said. “I think it’s up to each team to decide what they want or don’t want to put.’’

While Germany, Japan, and Austria all provide this type of information, the US varies by sport. You can find the weights of lugers and hockey players, but not snowboarders and figure skaters.

It is unclear when exactly Norway developed this policy. Most say it began around the time of the 2008 Summer Olympics through the country’s handball team.

“This is part of our work with values in elite sport,’’ Lea said. “There is no reasonable argument that an athlete should have to inform about his/her weight. Information about weight is not important, and in respect with athletes, our decision is not to inform about it.’

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