I understand where your confusion comes from: the verb seemingly agrees with the preceding noun which you mistook for the subject.
This sentence is actually of a special kind called неопределённо-личные предложения ("indefinite person sentences"). They have no subject and the verb is in the third person plural:
В зале поют. - There is singing in ...
The -ою/-ею forms are older and sound archaic/poetic. -ой/-ей is the modern form, reflecting the same trend towards loss of semantically weak final vowels that turned -ти infinitives into -ть.
With the exception of ею, the instrumental of the pronoun она which some prescribe as the preferred literary norm since ей is easily confused with the dative form, no ...
The usual ending of feminine adjectives in the instrumental is -ой or -ей.
Летом мы лакомились вкусной ягодой.
Вода была горячей-прегорячей.
Feminine adjectives can have the ending -ою,-ею in the instrumental case.(вариантные окончания). They are usef mainly in poetry, folklore or bookish style.
Берёзы жёлтою резьбой
Блестят в лазури голубой.
It is the same as "they call it the White Olympics".
In addition to other answer I'd like to note that this form is always used with plural form of the verb называть. So it's easy to distinguish two different cases if you use some singular or uncountable object like:
Нефть называют чёрным золотом. They call oil the "black gold".
Америку называют ...
Sentences without subject with verbs in plural form accusative case are used in formal texts to describe sort of widespread common knowledge. Grammatically this implies an omitted subject like все / люди / они. Usually this is translated to English using passive voice:
Москву также называют Белокаменной. — The city of Moscow is also called "The White-...
I think you gave an answer to your own question while asking. You just wrote:
But it sounds like the 'winter games' are calling something the 'white Olympics'.
So you are quite right that зимние игры называют could act as a subject and a verb in the sentence, but the verb requires a direct object, that very "something ". If there's no object the sentence ...
Formally, that type of sentence is known as неопределённо-личные предложения ("indefinite person sentences") and are typical for Slavic languages.
However, for an English speaking person, it'll be easier to think of them as "implicit subject sentences". And indeed, you come across them in English as well.
Consider this short monologue:
Remember John? Spoke ...
The use of the verb "называют" without a subject is extremely common, with the meaning of "they call..." or "some people call...". The inversion of the verb with the object is also common in this context. In Russian the word order is more flexible than in English: we tend to put the topic of the sentence first, even when it differs from the grammatical ...
it sounds like the 'winter games' are calling something the 'white Olympics'
Yes, it sounds like this until you read the next part and see that the case does not match. Then you go back and re-parse.
Also, "Olympic games" are inanimate, so you should have suspected something is wrong as soon as you read "называют", which implies animate subject.
why not ...
It's strange that only the last phrase caused the question. The text has many similar grammatical constructions.
1) Олимпийские игры проводят один раз в 4 года = (Они) (!) проводят Олимпийские игры один раз в 4 года = Олимпийские игры проводЯТСЯ один раз в 4 года.
2) На стадионе поднимают белый олимпийский флаг = (Они) поднимают на стадионе белый ...
To mention a few:
etc. So if we take both 'noun' and 'adjective' as 'nouns' then yes, I think the nouns are ...