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Friday's papers: Big lead for Niinistö, SMS dismay and shower shambles for Lions

Friday's papers cover a poll showing a big lead for Sauli Niinistö, Finns not getting Independence Day texts, and a shower shortage at the Winter Olympics.

Sauli Niinistö Image: Nella Nuora / Yle

The presidential election due in January has seemed like something of a one-horse race, with the last Yle poll showing incumbent Sauli Niinistö on 80 percent and many of his rivals struggling to clear the margin of error.

On Friday Aamulehti publishes another poll (siirryt toiseen palveluun) showing Niinistö on 64 percent, a much lower level of support but still one that--if replicated in the election--would see him win re-election comfortably in the first round.

This is the first poll published since independent, insurgent candidate Paavo Väyrynen announced he had secured entry into the race with the support of 20,000 citizens, and the veteran former Centre Party leader polled two percent. The poll was conducted, however, before Väyrynen made that announcement, suggesting that he has an opportunity to do better than many expected.

The poll showed Green Pekka Haavisto on 12 percent, followed by Leftist Merja Kyllönen, Centre Party candidate Matti Vanhanen and Finns Party populist Laura Huhtasaari on three percent.

The poll also found that more than 60 percent of SDP and Centre Party supporters would back Niinistö, even though their own parties are fielding candidates in the race.

Text message mess

Finland's government surprised many residents of the country on its hundredth independence day with a congratulatory text message in Finnish and Swedish. It was a nice touch, thought the organisers of the centennial celebrations.

"What could be more Finnish than congratulations delivered by text message," asked Pekka Timonen of the centennial committee in a press release, referencing the Finnish origins (siirryt toiseen palveluun) of SMS communication.

Only some people didn't get their messages. As news of the mass texting spread and some noticed they hadn't been sent best wishes, it emerged that not every Finnish phone would get them. The reason, reports Helsingin Sanomat (siirryt toiseen palveluun), is that some phones were turned off when the messages were sent, or didn't have reception. In addition, Telia had some technical difficulties and left some subscribers uncongratulated.

In all, half a million people missed out on their messages, making a bit of a mockery of the official 'together' theme of Finland's 100th birthday.

Winter Olympic facility fuss

The Winter Olympics are due to start in February, and the centrepiece of the Finnish team is--as ever--the men's ice hockey squad. Ilta-Sanomat reports (siirryt toiseen palveluun) the old favourite of sub-standard facilities at the venue in South Korea, this time focusing on the changing rooms.

The Gangneung arena is the home of the ice hockey tournament and it has one innovative feature: each of the twelve competing teams will have their own changing room for the duration of the tournament. The problem, reports IS, is that these facilities are just too small.

In particular, each changing room has just one toilet and four showers, which the Finnish ice hockey federation claims is woefully deficient for a 22-player squad plus backroom staff.

Nevertheless, the Finns are confident that everything will be in order by the time the tournament starts on 14 February. If not, team manager Jukka Lohva tells IS he has a tongue-in-cheek plan for organising a shower schedule.

"Maybe some kind of pecking order would emerge," said Lohva. "Captain first. Or the player of the match. Sure, we'll work these things out."