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APN podcast: Election debates and crowds during Covid

This week's podcast asked why events are lagging behind bars and pubs in the return to a post-Covid normal. 

All Points North Episode 18, 2021
Yle News

Finland has published its Covid Exit plan and bars and restaurants are welcoming customers onto their terraces, but on Thursday the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs said that this summer would not be as relaxed as last year's.

And even with the relaxations, one part of a typical Finnish summer is not yet in place.

Football stadia are still empty of fans, with games in the National League and Veikkausliiga taking place in front of empty stands. And festivals are few and far between.

HJK Helsinki CEO Aki Riihilahti told APN that it's difficult for football people to understand this different treatment.

"At the moment, basically it feels difficult for our fans and customers that they can go to a pub next door, or they can go to Linnanmäki with three thousand [other] people, and they can be here in our restaurant until someone kicks a ball or plays a guitar," said Riihilahti, who later pointed out that the Linnanmäki capacity figure is in fact 7,000.

"After that you can have six people in the stadium of 11,000 people. Which makes the safe distance between spectators 92 metres, outside, wearing a mask. I think we are the safest place in the world at the moment for not having Covid."

You can listen to the full podcast using the embedded player here or via Yle Areena, Spotify, Apple Podcasts or your usual podcast player using the RSS feed.

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Riihilahti said he was arguing for equal treatment with restaurants, rather than any special measures for culture and sporting events.

We asked the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs for comment on their guidance to regional agencies, but they directed us to the Ministry of Culture. The Ministry of Culture had not responded to our request for comment by the time we recorded the podcast.

Riihilahti also commented on the recent scandal over the collapsed European Super League, when 12 major clubs tried to set up a breakaway competition.

As vice-chair of Uefa's Clubs Competition Committee and the European Clubs Association, Riihilahti had an understanding of the dynamics at play. He told us the end result was satisfactory.

"It was always the gun in our head during the negotiations of what should be done next that if you don't play along we will have this Super League," said Riihilahti. "This has been the same for 20 years, in all the negotiations, and now they tried it and it failed, which is good for football."

Election fever

Also in the podcast this week, we asked Yle's Ville Seuri about the election compass and met Ran Goren, who told us why he's holding his own local election panel this year.

"Finnish people are not big fans of talking about politics," says Goren, who is organising a discussion through his Facebook group.

It will be recorded and then shown online, with candidates from Turku invited to share their views on pressing issues. Goren says it's easy to set up your own panel, and people should take the plunge — especially if they prefer to do things in English.

"It's because the debate can really brainstorm the candidates and the citizens to think what is good for the city, what is going on, what is missing," said Goren. "And I believe that voting is not only an individual decision and you really need to discuss it with people, and I believe that creating those decisions is something we should do more."

We want to hear from you!

This week's show was presented by Egan Richardson and Zena Iovino. It wasproduced by Ronan Browne,and the audio engineer was Laura Koso.

If you have a question or would like to share your thoughts, you can contact us via WhatsApp on +358 44 421 0909, on our Facebook or Twitter accounts, or at and

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