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The Finnish Olympic team’s competition journey begins at Helsinki Airport

Article published
9.1.2020 at 09:00
People & Aviation
Preparations are in full swing for Finnish athletes who compete in the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics. Olympians’ trip to Japan will start from their own home airport, Helsinki Airport, next summer. What kinds of special arrangements are made at the airport – and how are vault poles and javelins transported to Tokyo?

A smooth departure is essential for Olympic athletes, who need to have their body and mind at peak condition for the games. Smooth and stress-free travel supports performance, but adoring fans farewells at the airport also boost athletes’ spirits.

“Helsinki Airport is the home base for the Finnish Olympic team; getting into the spirit of the games starts there. Fans waving flags and a decorated departure gate do brighten up the atmosphere,” says Ville Köngäs, Executive Business Manager at the Finnish Olympic Committee.

Finavia has been a partner of the Finnish Olympic Committee since 2017.

“We work together with the Olympic Committee: leading up the games, we concentrate on supporting the athletes’ departure the best we can,” says Anna Tuomi, Head of Marketing at Finavia.

How do javelins and vaulting poles travel?

Olympic athletes will travel to Japan with their own coach or team. Most of them arrive in Japan two to four weeks before the games start. This way they will have enough time to adapt to the time difference, which is six hours, and to the hot, humid climate.

The journey must be carefully planned as there is a great amount of luggage to be transported. The airport service providers and airlines make sure that the equipment gets on the right plane on time.

“Special luggage can include anything from athletes’ javelins to the ranged weapons in shooting sports. Everything will have to fly to the other side of the world in immaculate condition. Careful packing, regulations and customs duties are taken into consideration. For example, the 4 to 5-meter-long vault poles are packed in specially designed tubes, so they can be transported in the hold with other checked-in luggage. Sailors’ boats and equestrians’ horses travel separately on container ships,” Köngäs shares.

Smooth journey from home to stadium

Certain special arrangements are made at Helsinki Airport to ease athletes’ travel. For example, private rooms are reserved for them and they have their own check-in points.

We value that Finavia considers sports to be important and that arrangements are planned according to the athletes’ requirements,” compliments Köngäs.

The essentials are the same things every traveller appreciates: a smooth, trustworthy travel experience with clear procedures from home to the plane. Helsinki Airport’s history also ties in with the Olympic team, as the airport was originally opened for the Helsinki Olympics in 1952.

We have had the privilege to be part of many memorable moments, such as the Olympic gold medal celebrations of Iivo Niskanen in 2018. We are just as excited for the upcoming Olympic year 2020,” says Tuomi.

Check top athletes tips for a smooth long-haul flight