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Helsinki welcomes 21,000 gymnasts for Gymnaestrada

An international gymnastics jamboree is currently bringing thousands of participants to the Finnish capital for a week-long festival of performances and displays. The 21,000 gymnasts make this the biggest international event ever organized in Finland.

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The Gymnaestrada brings 21,000 foreign participants to Helsinki. Image: Yle

If you’re out and about in Helsinki this week you can’t fail to notice hordes of tracksuit-clad gymnasts from every corner of the globe traversing the city. They’re here for the Gymnaestrada, which brings 21,000 participants from 53 different countries to Helsinki.

They’ll be taking part in gymnastics routines across 15 stages around the Finnish capital. The event has its origins in Sweden in 1939, when mass routines lit up Stockholm. Another ‘Lingiad’ (named for the pioneering PE teacher Pehr Henrik Ling) was held in 1949 in Stockholm, and since then the event has gone to a different city every four years.

This year it’s Helsinki’s turn. It’s the biggest international event ever to be held in Finland, based on the number of participants, and the gymnastics union claims that it will bring 30 million euros of economic benefits to the region.

Economic impact

According to Marja-Leena Rinkineva, the director of economic affairs for Helsinki municipality, that figure was arrived at via a survey of participants conducted by the organizer. The Gymnaestrada’s total budget, which is funded by local and national government and the Finnish Gynmnastics Federation, is 20 million euros.

Rinkineva says that the costs are repaid many times over, and the organisers, Helsinki municipality and the Ministry of Culture will investigate the economic impact of the Gymnaestrada later in the autumn.

More important than that, however, is the reputational benefit of having thousands of foreigners visit Finland.

"It’s important that the message goes out to the world that Helsinki exists," said Marja-Leena Rinkineva, who says that the city includes economic impact assessments when deciding on potential funding for big events.

Sources: Yle

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