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Arhinmäki to give Sochi Winter Olympics opening a miss

Minister of Culture and Sport Paavo Arhinmäki says he will most likely be watching the Sochi Olympics opening ceremony from his couch at home. He may, however, go to Sochi towards the end of the games. President Sauli Niinistö and Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen will attend the opening.

Paavo Arhinmäki
Sports Minister Paavo Arhinmäki opts out of Sochi opening ceremony. Image: Yle

The Sochi Olympics kick off in three weeks on February 6. Many politicians across the globe are boycotting the games, seeing participation as expressing support for Vladimir Putin’s regime and its human rights violations.

The Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt for instance, will stay at home, while the country’s sports minister Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth will not take part in the opening ceremony on February 7, but will follow other parts of the games.

Adelsohn Liljeroth’s Finnish counterpart Paavo Arhinmäki seems to be following suit.

“I’ll probably be watching it [the opening ceremony] at home,” Arhinmäki commented on Yle’s current affairs talk-show A-studio on Wednesday evening.

Two sides to boycotts

Arhinmäki may, however, go to the games towards the end of the Olympics.

“There are two sides to such boycotts. There are athlete’s boycotts, which I do not support under any circumstances. But the other side is should politicians participate. One shouldn’t go and support human rights violations, restriction of freedom of speech and oppressing sexual minorities; environmental issues must be taken into account," Arhinmäki said, continuing, "This is a broad, big problem for the sports movement. When decisions to grant these games are made, these things are not considered.”

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