One man has died and another was hospitalised after just six minutes enduring temperatures of 110°C in the finals of the World Sauna Championships in Heinola, Finland. The annual event came to a tragic end in the Finnish city on Saturday, when a Russian man passed away in the final stages of the competition.
The other finalist, a Finnish man, was taken to hospital in Helsinki after both fell unconscious in the sauna. Contestants in the championships, who were all required to submit to a medical examination, were competing to see who could endure the extreme heat for the longest.
The event organisers insist that the two participants were asked if they were alright at regular intervals and that safety precautions were followed. According to YLE, the contest was stopped as soon as the men lost consciousness, but police are investigating the matter further.
Before the last challenge, Finnish finalist Timo Kaukonen said, “These have been damn hot saunas, and now the hottest is coming. After being in the sauna twice, my eyelids are red and my fingers have blisters. But I’m going in there again, gritting my teeth.”
The exact cause of death of the Russian man has not yet been ascertained, but organisers say they will not host any more competitive sauna events. The news of the tragic death has attracted world-wide media attention.