A story in yesterday’s (July 31) Nelosuutiset about the “worrying amount” of immigrants taking part in the national athletics championships, Kalevan kisat, was a perfect example of the scaremongering journalism practiced by some members of the Finnish media. Here is a link to a story that appeared in YLE.
The message of the story was simple – to point out how black immigrant long-distant runners are becoming a growing threat to Finnish runners because more are taking part in the competition. In order to empahsize the message, a picture of a black runner and naturalized Finn, Lewis Korir, was used passing a Finnish runner with ease.
One of the persons interviewed in the story explained how matters have gotten so much out of hand since runners can today easily get citizenship and get paid money to run for some Middle Eastern countries such as Qatar.
The person who was interviewed suggested that since getting a residence permit in Finland was relatively easy, citizenship should be required of immigrants in order to take part in the competition. Even so, what is all the fuss if Korir is a Finnish citizen?
Even though I do not understand the connection between runners getting Qatari citizenship and immigrants taking part in the Kalevan kisat, the story that was aired on Nelosuutiset is a perfect example shoddy scaremongering journalism.
It was also an odd flashback to the Finlandization days when the country “defended” itself by excluding foreigners with the help of draconian foreign investment and immigration laws.
Why couldn’t the story have the following message: Through immigration Finland will gain many future Olympic-class athletes?
During my visits to Finland in the summer, when I stayed with my grandparents, I took part in an Eastern Finland athletics championship in the 1970s. I won the high jump competition but a controversy arose just before I was going to be awarded the medal.
One group said I had no right to the medal because I lived in the United States. After much talking and explaining that my mother was Finnish, they allowed me to have the medal becauase I had won the competition fair and square.
The small example shows that there are a lot of sensible Finns who believe in the spirit of competition not on ways to limit it through nationalism.