In late spring 2020, the National Sports Council (VLN) commissioned a report on the situation in the sports sector during the coronavirus pandemic. The report was published in June, but university sports services were completely excluded. Such sports services are statutory activities that provide exercise for thousands of students at 36 institutions.

The whole world has been affected by the coronavirus, COVID-19, this year. In Finland, the epidemic has affected healthcare as well as sectors such as the cultural and sports industries. In spring 2020, the pandemic closed a number of indoor and outdoor sports venues provided and maintained on the basis of private and public funding. It has already been shown that such closures have had a major impact on public health.

These pages contain information on the effects of the coronavirus on university sports in particular. The website will be updated as the pandemic continues.

The coronavirus’ impacts on the sports industry and university sports

The National Sport Council (VLN) commissioned a report on the situation in the sports sector at the end of last spring. The report was published in June 2020 and its results were used to develop various forms of support for the sports industry. Unfortunately, university sports were omitted from the survey, despite the fact that they provide exercise for hundreds of thousands of students and staff in 36 institutions.

The Student Sports Association prepared its own survey, targeted at university sports services, in the autumn of 2020. The survey mapped the challenges they faced and the need for support measures. As many as 20 actors responded to the survey, representing 19 university sports services.

The survey clearly reveals the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. No university sports service provider functioned normally during the spring restrictions. Up to 45% of operations were completely halted. Various ways were found of partially maintaining activities. A summary and overview of the survey report are available on this site.

The results of the survey were referred to in a press release prepared in October and a statement issued by the General Assembly of the Finnish Student Sports Federation in November. The results and the General Assembly’s statement were also sent to the National Sports Council, Universities Finland (Unifi), and the sports services themselves.

Effects of the coronavirus on sports activities among university students

There was a significant decrease in physical activity among children and young people in particular, thought to be due to less ‘commuting’. The same effect was observed in working age people.

However, the decrease in commuting did not directly affect the amount of physical exercise in every case, since this was compensated for by other forms of exercise. On the other hand, the report observed a clear change in types of physical activity. Many respondents swapped time spent at the gym for walking and outdoor activities.

The report did not address university students, as such. It can be assumed that most student networks are connected to the university environment. Many universities closed their facilities and restricted their use during the pandemic. University sports services were also affected. According to a survey conducted for university sports services by OLL, the pandemic led to more restricted lives and a decrease in social contacts for students. The VLN report observed the same effect among the elderly.