Athletics Ella Junnila calls for strong action to eradicate inappropriate behavior: “I hope this is a revival for the Olympic Committee”

Finns athletes want their voices to be heard more and more in cabinets, not just on sports fields. The goal is to make sports safer physically and mentally.

“The development of sports is a joint game in which the voice of athletes is even stronger,” the chairman of the Finnish Athletes Association Ella Junnila says.

Athletes formed their own association in December, which focuses on advocating for the interests of athletes in the sport. In late May, the association released a five-point listing of athlete rights as part of a safer space project.

In the same context, the association published website form, through which athletes can report the grievances they have experienced and perceived. All athletes can be contacted, including those who are not members of the Athletics membership.

“The announcements are strictly confidential. We hope that the opportunity to report grievances to the athletes’ own representatives will lower the threshold for bringing them out, ”says high jumper Junnila.

Junnila cannot comment on how many suggestions for improvement or comments on possible grievances the association has received so far.

Without a separate permit, the athlete’s message will only be processed by the executive director of the association Tuomas Rouvali within the association. He is the only one in the association who has access to the information provided by the athlete.

“The rights of all athletes must be realized so that we have a good and safe environment for sports.”

“I hope the Olympic Committee will do its utmost to restore confidence.”

The association has consulted the Finnish Ethics Center for Sport (Suek) and the Finnish Olympic Committee, which has its own guidelines on the rights of athletes.

Some of the rights apply to very specific grievances on sports fields, such as wet venues, rain and sun shelters or benches. That is, things that can make running physically dangerous or increase your risk of injury.

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The other side concerns the mental well-being of the athlete and security in the sport without being subjected to inappropriate activity.

In winter and Junnila says that the harassment that occurred in the spring was followed by sadness.

Head of the Top Sports Unit Mika Lehtimäki resigned after Yle spoke of his inappropriate behavior towards women.

The Olympic Committee issued a warning to Lehtimäki in October last year, but still elected him for a second term after the Beijing Olympics in March.

Two other suspicions of harassment also appeared in the Olympic Committee during the winter.

Ella Junnila is a high jump SE woman with a result of 196 cents.

Does the Olympic Committee still enjoy the confidence of athletes after all this?

“Of course, I can’t speak for everyone, but I personally feel that abuses gnaw at credit. It is good that everything is being dug up so that we can start building trust from a really clean table, ”says Junnila.

“I hope that the Olympic Committee will do its utmost to restore confidence – not just and only on behalf of the ministry, sports federations or spectators, but above all on behalf of the athletes. The Olympic Committee must serve the athletes. You have to be able to trust it. ”

“I hope this is an awakening to the Olympic Committee that things need to be done right from start to finish. The Olympic Committee also employs good people who are primarily in the best interests of the athlete. Activities must be transparent. I hope that based on the events of the spring, such a way of thinking will spread throughout the organization. ”

“Improper use may occur, but it may not be intentional.”

Junnila, the new head of the top sports unit, hopes to be involved in the athlete’s daily life.

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“A new leader should be a hands-on type who wants to connect with athletes and know about their daily activities. I don’t have a favorite of my own. If it were, I would campaign for him. ”

The Olympic Committee will elect Lehtimäki’s successor at the beginning of July.

According to HS, there are four candidates in the final standings: a basketball coach Henrik DettmannCEO of Santasport Finland Mika KulmalaHead Coach of the Young Lions Antti Pennanen and Deputy Director of the Top Sports Unit and current holder of the position Leena Paavilainen.

Have you experienced any ills during your sports career?

“I’ve noticed a few cases in 20 years. Improper use may occur, but it may not be intentional. It could be a lack of understanding or a lack of perspective. ”

As an example of quite concrete grievances, Junnila refers to his own sport of high jump.

“Like the fact that there is no shelter at the jump site or the race organizers don’t have the means to dry the jump site.”

Have you encountered sexual harassment, such as inappropriate messages or shouting?

“I am and I think there are quite a few. On the public side and on social media, it occurs, but is fortunately declining, at least for me. It should be zero. Physically, I have never felt unsafe on an athletics field. ”

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Junnilan in addition, the board runners are members of the board of the Finnish Athletes Association Nooralotta NeziriSevens Fighter Maria Huntingtonpole vaulter Wilma Murtorunner Elmo Lakkatrack winders Toni Piispanen and Esa-Pekka Mattilajavelin thrower Lassi Etelätalosprinter Konsta Alatupa and a bulleter Nico Oksanen.

Triple jumper Topias Koukkula is the vice chairman of the board and a close partner of Junnila in the affairs of the association.

“I am proud that the founding members of the association are athletes from such a wide level and from different sides of the national team,” says Junnila.

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Read more: Olympic Committee: Several people report suspected inappropriate behavior by Anni Vuohijoki

Read more: The Bureau of the Olympic Committee received “five fines,” but retained the confidence of its members

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Athletes’ rights

  • Every athlete has full freedom of expression and also the right not to take a position if they so wish.

  • Each athlete is allowed to be their own with their views and identities.

  • Every athlete must be treated equally in all situations.

  • Venues for competition and camps, associated facilities and arrangements must be safe and appropriate for athletes.

  • There must be zero tolerance for all forms of physical and verbal harassment.

  • Source: Athletes Association.

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