The humiliating stand-down comes after a series of lacklustre performances from the multiple Olympic gold medal-winner, with him coming 17th in the Skiathlon on Sunday, and a disappointing 5th in the men's sprint semi-finals on Tuesday.
"The reason why Northug is not here is that he wants to save strength for the relay," national coach Trond Nystad said at a press conference on Wednesday. "Petter is frustrated. He's not far from peak condition, but he is perplexed about why he did not go fast. We discussed strategy. He had his opinions, I had my say."
Northug's coach Eric Myhr Nossum told TV2 that Northug wanted to concentrate his efforts on the relay and the 50km race.
"He feels that he is not gold contender as of now," Nossum added, of why he had decided to drop from the 15km.
Northug did not compete for much of the last season after being hit by a virus in July, has struggled to regain his form ever since.