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Yle Sport: Top Olympic official physically harassed, belittled female colleagues

Yle Sport has learned that the former Olympic committee member Mika Lehtimäki, who resigned on Monday over inappropriate conduct towards women coworkers, also engaged in physical sexual harassment of colleagues.

Mika Lehtimäki lähikuvassa.
Earlier this month, the Olympic Committee re-appointed Lehtimäki to continue in his post. Image: Lehtikuva
Yle News

Further revelations concerning the conduct of former Olympic committee member Mika Lehtimäki towards his female colleagues have been reported by Yle Sport, with Olympic Committee President, and former Helsinki Mayor, Jan Vapaavuori also embroiled in the fallout from the scandal.

On Monday, Lehtimäki announced his resignation as director of the Finnish Olympic Committee's top sports unit following reports he had sent inappropriate late night text messages to two female colleagues.

However, further details related to physical sexual harassment have since emerged, contradicting recent statements about the initial scandal made by Olympic Committee chair Vapaavuori.

Last fall, Lehtimäki received an official warning about inappropriate conduct against women in the workplace. Despite the reprimand, earlier this month, the Olympic Committee re-appointed Lehtimäki to continue in his post.

Committee members responsible for the decision included: Vapaavuori as well as the committee's Secretary General and CEO, Mikko Salonen and vice chairs MP Sari Multala and Susanna Rahkamo.

Lehtimäki addressed the claims in a press release published by his lawyer on his behalf on Wednesday.

According to the statement, Lehtimäki "denies all allegations of inappropriate physical contact." He also refuted any claims that he influenced his coworkers' career paths in any way.

Additionally, the statement said that Lehtimäki's interactions and communications with colleagues did not cross the boundaries of ordinary workplace fraternisation.


Ilta-Sanomat asked Vapaavuori last Friday whether the consequences of Lehtimäki’s misconduct warning implied that his inappropriate conduct did not extend to physical aggression. Vapaavuori responded that despite non-disclosure agreements, he could confirm that the case did not involve physical harassment.

In his Monday resignation press conference, Lehtimäki said last autumn’s warning was due to text messages he sent out late at night to women colleagues, which he described as "too friendly."

However, Yle reported on Tuesday that the investigation into Lehtimäki's misconduct uncovered instances of physical misconduct. Additionally, according to Yle sources, when Lehtimäki did not get a response to his advances, he belittled the person professionally in various contexts.

The Olympic Committee has repeatedly stated it has not communicated details of Lehtimäki's past autumn's warning at the request of the people who were subject to his misconduct.

No such request has been made and no non-disclosure agreement has been signed, according to Yle Sport.

Prompted by revelations about Lehtimäki's behaviour, women in top positions at Finnish sports organisations, including former defence minister Elisabeth Rehn, wrote about the unfair treatment women face in the sports world, in an open letter that was published on Wednesday.

The women wrote about experiences of sexual harassment, unequal treatment and discrimination.

According to the letter's authors, the sports world is in many ways still an "Old Boys Club."

Edited at 16:19 to add Lehtimäki's response to Yle Sport's reporting.

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