The black and grey sweaters feature a symbol known as the Tyr rune, representing the team’s theme for the Olympics, “the Attacking Viking.” The symbol is associated with Viking and Norse mythology and stands for heroic glory.
But the symbol has also been hijacked by extreme right-wing groups. For example, Tyr was also the official emblem for Adolf Hitler’s leadership school in Nazi Germany.
Since the Second World War, neo-Nazis and other white supremacists continued to use the Tyr symbol — its popularity in part stems from the fact that it is considered by many to be the “warrior rune,” according to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).
Norway’s security police have warned of the rise of a small but politically extreme and potentially violent neo-Nazo group called the Nordic Resistance Movement, which uses the Tyr rune in its branding, according to the New York Times.
Despite the controversy, the manufacturer of the sweater, Dale of Norway, is continuing to sell the sweater. It is being sold for C$279 on the company’s website, and is described as a “Viking concept” with bold patterns that includes “runic symbols for victory and protection.”
WATCH: Company recalls winter boots after imprints leave swastika-like symbol
Hilde Midthjell, Dale of Norway’s CEO, told the New York Times, she is frustrated and disappointed over the situation and has “vowed to face down any attempts by white supremacists to co-opt symbols that belonged to a shared Norwegian heritage.”
“Neo-Nazis have marched with Norwegian flags,” she said. “That does not mean we stop using that, does it?”
The design is still the downhill ski team’s official sweater for the 2017-2018 season. But several members of the Alpine team told the New York Times they will no longer be wearing the sweater during the games in South Korea.