World Sauna Championships

The World Sauna Championships were an annual endurance contest held in Heinola, Finland, from 1999 to 2010. They originated from unofficial sauna-sitting competitions that resulted in a ban from a swimming hall in Heinola. The Championships were first held in 1999 and grew to feature contestants from over 20 countries. Sauna bathing at extreme conditions is a severe health risk: all competitors competed at their own risk, and had to sign a form agreeing not to take legal action against the organizers. Notably, the Finnish Sauna Society strongly opposed the event.

After the death of one finalist and near-death of another during the 2010 championship, the organizers announced that they would not hold another. This followed an announcement by prosecutors in March that the organizing committee would not be charged for negligence, as their investigation revealed that the contestant who died may have used painkillers and ointments that were forbidden by the organizers.

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