Weightlifter Anni Vuohijoki has seen and experienced a lot as a 32-year-old woman, but on Saturday she will embark on a journey she has never experienced before and would hardly care to experience in the future.
Four Finnish weightlifters will fly to the city of Cali in western Colombia, where the weightlifting competitions will feature heavy ranking points in the distribution of the Tokyo Olympic venues.
Goat River's second Olympic representation is already very likely, although the race will be tight, he said.
- However, there are lifters going to Cal who may still threaten my Olympic place, so I can't let them take points and not go to the place themselves, Vuohijoki said.
The Finnish weight delegation is traveling to a very chaotic state.
In a country with a population of 50 million, punished by a corona pandemic, millions of people have fallen below the poverty line over the past year or so.
People outraged by the government’s tax reform have been protesting this week in big cities like Cali, with a population of 2.5 million.
At least 20 people have already died in the protests.
At the same time, the corona epidemic is rampant in a tropical country, apparently uncontrollably.
According to official statistics, there would have been about three million infections and about 76,000 deaths. The Goat River would not keep the numbers as the first word of God.
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- There are a huge number of unregistered people in slums exposed to infections.
I don’t know about testing capacity, but I do know that 95 percent of treatment capacity is already in use.
Of course, these competitions should not be held, but what can I do about the situation as an athlete?
I have to go, the Goat River, which used to visit the “normal” world in Colombia, said.
- It was a really nice trip then, and the people were absolutely wonderful.
The Weightlifting Association has also consulted the Finnish Embassy in Bogota, the capital of Colombia, on the situation.
The information has not been encouraging.
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- Air traffic between Bogota and Cali has been reduced, at least drastically, and food consignments have not even been reportedly reached by road.
In addition, Cal would now have a waste management stop, which is, of course, a very interesting situation in tropical conditions.
Athletes have been promised to build some kind of corona bubble familiar from this season's sporting events, but Vuohijoki says he is directly skeptical about it.
- At least the Danes are there before us, so we'll hear if it's been so funny that the race would have been canceled.
Colombia is a strong weightlifting country, but the smiles of the country’s successful buyers are often clotted once the laboratory analysis of the doping sample is completed.
At the moment, Colombian lifters are even threatened with a complete ban on the Tokyo Olympics due to too many positive samples, which is why organizing rankings in Colombia is special.
- According to Colombians, the cases would be due to the fact that hormones were first fed to the horses and then the meat was eaten by the breeders.
The sixth-placed lifter at this spring’s European Championships also feels Cali’s reputation as a cocaine city.
In the 1990s, a local cartel dominated the lion's share of the world cocaine market.
- The last time I visited Cali, the street drug store was quite open.
Vuohijoki, who previously studied for a master's degree in engineering, has a bachelor's degree in medicine and has been vaccinated against corona due to the nature of his nursing work.
The International Olympic Committee said on Thursday that it would arrange for all interested Olympic athletes to be vaccinated before the Games.
- It is a fair solution, especially for athletes from non-developed countries, and increases the safety of everyone else.
I would also see it as a very Olympic solution.
Vuohijoki plans to graduate with a licentiate degree in medicine in the spring of 2022. Future plans also include the preparation of a dissertation and specialization studies.
The Olympic weightlifting ranking will close on May 31st.
Photo: Mikko Stig / Lehtikuva
Photo: Maria Jose Gonzalez Beltran / ZUMA / Mvphotos