Gylfi Sigurðsson Likely to Return to International Football Tonight

Gylfi Sigurðsson football Icelandic national team

Gylfi Þór Sigurðsson is set to play his first international match in three years. In an interview with Vísir, the footballer confessed that he had been uncertain whether he would return to football, and by extension, the national team.

Exciting times ahead

Gylfi Þór Sigurðsson is likely to play his first international match in three years tonight. In an interview with Vísir yesterday, he expressed his excitement about playing for the national team again

“It’s quite enjoyable. Fantastic. It’s fun to be in this routine with the guys at the hotel. To have meetings and practice. Just being around the team. There’s a great atmosphere around the group and exciting times ahead for the team,” Gylfi Þór said in a conversation with Guðmundur Benediktsson.

As noted by Vísir, the past years have been tough for Gylfi; the Office of the Crown Prosecutor in the UK dropped charges against the footballer in April after he had been the subject of a police investigation since July, 2021. When asked if he expected to play for the national team again, Gylfi replied thusly:

“Yes and no. No, because I wasn’t sure if I would continue to play football. Therefore, I didn’t expect to play for Iceland again. But yes, after I decided to continue in football and give it another shot, I totally expected it.”

Aiming for the national goalscoring record

It’s been some time since Gylfi scored his last goal for the team. Over the course of his career, he has netted 25 goals, one shy of the national record of 26. He hopes to reach this milestone in the future.

“Of course, that’s my aim – and it has been my goal for many years. Kolli [Kolbeinn Sigþórsson] and Eiður [Guðjohnsen] hold the record, so it’s extra significant for me. Especially because of Eiður, who was my role model when I was younger. It will make it even sweeter for me if I achieve it.”

The men’s national team in football squares off against Luxembourg at the Laugardalur stadium in Reykjavík tonight at 18:45.

Laufey Sets New Jazz Standard on Spotify

Bewitched / From the Start

Icelandic musician Laufey’s album Bewitched broke Spotify’s jazz streaming record with 5.7 million day-one streams, RÚV reports. The standout track From the Start has also gained viral traction on TikTok.

5.7 million streams on its first day

Icelandic musician Laufey’s new album, Bewitched, has set a record for the most streams in the jazz category on Spotify on its day of release, accumulating 5.7 million streams, RÚV reports. The previous record was held by Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett’s 2021 album Love for Sale, which received 1.1 million streams on its first day.

Bewitched, released by music label AWAL on September 8, is Laufey’s second album. It features the British Philharmonic Orchestra on two of its tracks and consists mostly of original compositions, along with one cover song.

It received a five-star review from NME: “There’s a certain magic in Laufey’s music. Filled with swooning strings and gently sighing backing vocals, her lush offerings can evoke both the Great American Songbook and modern pop greats like Billie Eilish.”

The track From the Start has gained notable attention, particularly on the social media platform TikTok, becoming the most popular song from the album to date.

Speaking to the radio programme Reykjavík síðdegis yesterday, Laufey was overjoyed by the reception: “I strive to focus less on metrics and more on creating the highest quality music possible. Yet, when the album is released and the statistics begin to roll in, it’s always an unexpected delight.”

Record-Breaking Gonorrhoea Rates Spark Concern

Landspítali national hospital

According to the Directorate of Health, 213 individuals have been diagnosed with gonorrhoea in the first eight months of 2023, surpassing last year’s total of 158 cases, which had broken a 30-year record. The surge in cases, particularly among men aged 25-34 and women aged 25-29, has sparked debate over declining condom use and the rise of antibiotic-resistant strains.

Underlying cause remains uncertain

In the first eight months of this year, 213 individuals have been diagnosed with the sexually transmitted disease gonorrhoea, surpassing the total number of cases recorded last year, according to the Directorate of Health. The 2022 figure broke a three-decade record; after 1990, the incidence of the disease had greatly decreased.

Data from the Directorate of Health reveals that the most significant uptick in cases occurred among men aged 25 to 34 and women aged 25 to 29. While gonorrhoea cases are generally less frequent in women, year-to-year fluctuations are more pronounced.

The underlying cause of this surge remains uncertain, sparking debate over whether declining condom usage should be investigated, particularly in neighbouring countries. Another theory posits that asymptomatic individuals may unknowingly transmit the infection, especially in the absence of condom use.

The Directorate of Health notes that similar trends have been observed across continental Europe and other Nordic countries. Growing alarm surrounds antibiotic-resistant strains of gonorrhoea, heightening concerns over their potential spread. “Increased antibiotic resistance complicates the treatment of gonorrhoea with antibiotics, thereby hindering efforts to contain and eradicate the disease,” the Directorate warns.

As noted by the Directorate of Health: “In men, the most common symptom is burning or discomfort when urinating (urethritis) with pus-like discharge from the urethra. Asymptomatic infection in men is less common than in women. Symptoms of infection in the urinary and genital organs of women are often altered or increased discharge and pain around the lower abdomen. Other symptoms include abnormal bleeding between menstrual periods, burning sensations or discomfort when urinating. Women are often asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic.”

“Icelandic as a Second Language” University’s Most Popular Subject

Háskóli Íslands University of Iceland

The University of Iceland received nearly 9,500 applications for undergraduate and graduate programmes for the 2023-24 school year. This is an increase of over 6% from last year. Icelandic as a second language proved the most popular subject, with over 640 applications received, Vísir reports.

Almost 9,500 applications received

The application deadline for the 2023-2024 school year to the University of Iceland expired on June 5. Nearly 9,500 applications were received for undergraduate and graduate programmes, with the number of applicants having increased by over 6% year-on-year.

An announcement from the University of Iceland notes that the university received a total number of 5,357 applications for undergraduate studies (up by over 6% year-on-year); a total of 4,115 applications for graduate studies (up by over 7% year-on-year); and nearly 100 applications for doctoral studies.

As noted by Vísir, the number of foreign applications received by the University of Iceland continues to increase in parallel with the school’s growing foreign cooperation and the increased diversification of Icelandic society. The number of foreign applications increased by 20% year-on-year, amounting to nearly 2,000 (compared to the approximately 1,000 foreign applications received in 2016).

“Icelandic as a second language” the most popular subject

The Faculty of the Humanities received the most applications of all departments, or nearly 1,390. Among the subjects offered by the department, Icelandic as a second language is by far the most popular, with more than 640 applications having been received for either a BA programme or a shorter practical one-year programme. This is a year-on-year increase of just over 33%.

“It’s a real pleasure to see that Icelandic as a second language is a very popular subject. This is where the University of Iceland fulfils its social role. This is a subject that we will continue to promote,” Jón Atli Benediktsson, President of the University of Iceland, told Vísir.

As noted by Vísir, there are no restrictions on the number of students accepted into the subject and there is no intention to impose such restrictions. Jón Atli speculated that the increase in applications was to be explained by a greater diversity of university students and the increase in the number of immigrants.

“Regarding the increase in the number of foreign applications in general, diversification, of course, plays a role, alongside the good reputation that the University of Iceland enjoys abroad.”

Sun While It Lasted: May Among “Gloomiest” Months on Record

Rain in Reykjavík

This year’s month of May is in contention to break a more than 70-year-old record for the fewest hours of recorded sunlight in Reykjavík. The rainfall record for the month could also fall, Mbl.is reports.

A month of gloom and rain

The Icelandic weather Gods have been in a rather punishing mood this May. With nearly two weeks of continuous cloud cover in the capital area, water-cooler conversations in the various offices around Reykjavík have frequently been punctuated by weather-related grumblings. This morning, an article published on Mbl.is appeared to substantiate such pessimism scientifically, noting that our current month of May was in contention to break a more than 70-year-old “sunless” record in Reykjavík.

“Sure, we still have a chance of hitting solar rock bottom,” meteorologist Trausti Jónsson told the outlet. Trausti pointed out that, to date, the fewest number of “sunshine hours” in Reykjavík were recorded in May 1951, or 102.2 hours. When Trausti reviewed the data on Monday evening, the number of sunshine hours in May had reached a meagre 93.5 hours – with only three days remaining of the month. As noted by Mbl.is, this means that if fewer than 8.8 hours of sunshine hours are recorded over those three days, May 2023 would become the “least sunniest” fifth month of the year since measurements began.

Mbl.is further noted that this year’s May compared unfavourably with May of last year, when the number of sunshine hours in Reykjavík totalled 259.3 – exceeding the May average between 1991 and 2020 by 50 hours. Hours of sunshine have been measured in Reykjavík and the surrounding area since 1911, although measurements prior to May 1921 have gone missing.

Rain, rain, and more rain

On Monday evening, a total of 118.3 millimetres of rain had been recorded in Reykjavík in May. The rainiest May on record came in 2018 when the total rainfall was recorded at 128.8 millimetres. As noted by Mbl.is, it would, therefore, only take an additional 10.6 millimetres of rain during the final days of May to be recorded by the Met Office’s precipitation gauge to break the previous record. Such a thing is not beyond the realm of possibility, Trausti told Mbl.is.

Again, this year’s May compares unfavourably to last year’s, when the total recorded rainfall in Reykjavík was 44 millimetres or approximately 84% of the average rainfall for the years 1991 to 2020. Continuous rainfall measurements began in Reykjavík in 1920. On a slightly more upbeat note, the average temperature in the capital area in May has been close to the average.

Update (June 2): On June 1, Vísir reported that this year’s month of May had broken the record for fewest hours of recorded sunlight in May since measurements began. “The sun shone for 96 hours and the month was the third rainiest since the measurements began.”

Record Number of Icelanders Travelled Abroad in January

Icelandair cabin crew

The number of Icelanders who departed from Keflavík Airport in January was 41,500. Never before have so many Icelanders flown abroad in January, according to the Icelandic Tourist Board.

“We’re on the right track”

As noted in a press release from the Icelandic Tourist Board on Friday, 121,000 foreign passengers departed from Iceland in January. This is roughly equivalent to the number of departures in January 2020 and about 82% of foreign departures in January 2018, when numbers were at their peak.

In an interview with Fréttablaðið on Saturday, Jóhannes Þór Skúlason, Director of the Icelandic Travel Industry Association, stated that Iceland was “on the right track” in terms of demand. “It’s shaping up to be a good year in tourism because the low season, right now, in the middle of winter, has been promising. It seems to be similar to 2018, and it looks like it will be a very good summer,” Jóhannes remarked.

Almost half of the departing passengers were British and Americans. These nationalities have composed, by far, the most numerous group of people arriving in January over the last two decades, or since measurements began, the Icelandic Tourist Board noted.

The press release also noted that 41,500 Icelanders departed from Keflavík Airport in January. Never before have so many Icelanders flown abroad in January. Among those destinations that Icelanders have sought out is Tenerife.

 

 

 

Record Number of Icelanders Travelled Abroad in October

Nearly 72,000 Icelanders travelled abroad in October. Never before have as many Icelanders departed the country in October since measurements began. At the same time, 159,000 foreign travellers departed from Keflavík Airport in October, most of whom were American.

A strong desire to “get moving”

The Icelandic Tourist Board reported yesterday that 72,000 Icelanders – a fifth of the total population – travelled abroad in October. Never, since measurements began, have as many Icelanders departed from Keflavík Airport in the month of October.

“This confirms that Icelanders behave just like people from other countries. Their will to travel has grown, with a strong desire to get moving having gradually accumulated,” Jóhannes Þór Skúlason, Director of the Icelandic Travel Industry Association, told Fréttablaðið.

Pre-pandemic levels in 2024

The Icelandic Tourist Board also reported that nearly 159,000 foreign travellers departed from Keflavík Airport in October. According to information from Isavia, this represents the fourth most numerous departures from Iceland in October since measurements began. Departures from Iceland in 2022 have generally amounted to ca. 90% of departures in 2018, suggesting that air traffic will soon reach record highs.

“It’s gradual success and nothing else,” Jóhannas Þór observed. “Demand this year has been much greater than expected,” he added, noting that it would take more than one summer to recover from the effects of pandemic-imposed social restrictions.

“The problem is, and will remain, multifaceted, and relates to staffing shortages and debt accumulation; the financial state of companies in the travel sector won’t improve overnight. We estimate that we’ll be where we were before the pandemic in 2024.”

Travellers from the United States accounted for the largest share of tourists in Iceland in October, or approximately a third of all tourists.

Record-Number of Icelanders Departed from Keflavík Airport in May

According to data from the Icelandic Tourist Board (Ferðamálastofa), 65,000 Icelanders departed from Keflavík Airport in May. The number of departures has not been higher since measurements began.

Previous record broken

As noted in a press release published on the website of the Icelandic Tourist Board this morning, 65,000 Icelanders flew abroad from Keflavík Airport in May. Never before have as many Icelanders departed from the country in May since measurements began. The previous record for departures among Icelanders from Keflavík was in May 2018, or nearly 63,000.

Approximately 450,000 travellers – of which 200,000 Icelanders – have departed from Keflavík Airport since the beginning of the new year. At the same time last year, only 32,000 departing passengers were recorded.

As far as the month of May is concerned, the departures of foreign passengers were also significant, with approximately 112,000 departures. This number has only been exceeded on four other occasions (the most in May of 2018). Nearly a fourth of departing passengers, or 26,000, were American. The second most populous group of travellers were British, or 9,500.

Double the overnight stays compared to last year

As noted by RÚV, the number of overnight stays in Icelandic hotels in May was approximately 255,000, twice as many compared to May last year (35% of beds were in use). Icelandic residents accounted for 54,000 overnight stays in May compared to 201,000 tourists.

The total number of overnight stays in Iceland in 2021 was just over 5 million. Never before had as many Icelanders accounted for such a large percentage of those overnight stays, or 40% (almost two million). In 2019, the number of overnight stays in Iceland was 8.5 million, a figure that plummeted during the pandemic. Statistics Iceland expects a busy summer as far as foreign tourists are concerned.

December Heat Record Broken

Neskaupstaður

December heat records were broken or equalled by at least 53 remote weather-monitoring stations and three manned stations in the first days of the month. The cause was a mass of warm air that moved across the country. The data comes from Meteorologist Trausti Jónsson.

The highest temperature previously measured in Iceland in December was 18.4°C (65.1°F), recorded on December 14, 2001 near Siglufjörður. That record was broken at three separate locations on December 2, when temperatures reached 19.7°C () at Kvísker, Southeast Iceland, 19.0°C (66.2°F) at Bakkagerði and 18.7°C (65.7°F) at Vestdalur (both in East Iceland).

Daily temperature records (as opposed to monthly) were broken at over 200 locations, though some of them had only been operation for a few years. When only those operating for ten years or longer were considered, then daily temperature records were broken at 178 stations on December 2 and 111 station on December 3.

World’s Northernmost Cricket Ground to Open in Iceland

Iceland Cricket

Iceland Cricket will open the world’s northernmost cricket field this month in Hafnarfjörður. At a latitude of 64.07°N, the field will break the record currently held in Umeå, Sweden (63.84°N) by 25km (15.5mi). It will be officially inaugurated on May 26 by Prime Minister of Iceland Katrín Jakobsdóttir. The even will feature an exhibition match between a Prime Minister’s XI, captained by Katrín, and a British Ambassador’s XI, captained by Michael Nevin.

Modern Icelandic cricket was founded by Ragnar Kristinsson, who watched the famous world cup semi-final between Australia and South Africa while on holiday in Cyprus in 1999. The first practice sessions took place at Elliðaárdalur and the first local teams competed in 2000. Today, Iceland has cricket clubs in Reykjavík, Kópavogur, Garðabær, Hafnarfjörður and Seltjarnarnes. Iceland even boasts a national cricket team, which played its first international game last summer, beating Switzerland 330 to 115.

Kit Harris, who runs marketing and advertising for Iceland Cricket, says that Iceland’s cricket history goes much further back. Along with historian Tom Holland, he believes there is evidence that the Viking game “knattleikr,” as described in Egil’s Saga and several other sagas, is the ancestor of the modern game of cricket.

The exhibition match on opening day starts at 1.00pm and is free and open to the public. As is customary at cricket matches, English tea and cakes will be served.

Update May 20, 2019: A previous version of this article stated the cricket ground would be officially inaugurated on May 24 by the President of Iceland. The correct day is May 26, and the inauguration will be led by Prime Minister of Iceland Katrín Jakobsdóttir.