Hilo, HI — The International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced yesterday that it had selected Hawaii for the 2032 winter games. Hawaii has tried since its statehood to secure a shot at hosting the prestigious international event, most recently in 2002 for the Summer Games. When the Hawaii exploratory committee filed for the Winter Games, they knew it was a long shot.
“Everyone was disappointed when we lost our bid for the 2008 games,” said Ms. Kaimanakainalu Keihan’ekahaunaele, 54, spokesperson for the Lauwili wilinukunukuʻoiʻoi Olympic committee. “We worked tirelessly for six years only to get rejected. So on a whim, we tried for the winter games. Well, because we have snow all year round on Mauna Kea and even more in January.”
If you are skeptical, you’re not alone.
Mauna Kea is Earth’s tallest mountain, accounting for the ocean floor. It soars higher than even Mount Everest. And surprisingly, the Big Island of Hawaii has some of the best winter conditions on Earth, with Mauna Kea receiving over 17 feet of fresh snow between December and February.
In 2014, using money from an Obama-era reconstruction program, Hawaii built a luxury ski resort on the north slope of Mauna Kea, which has attracted over 1/2 million visitors since opening in 2015. However, the project was not without its detractors.
Several nativist Hawaiian groups have protested development on Mauna Kea, claiming that the ancient volcano has sacred burial grounds and magical powers that must not be disturbed. Other groups, like the Pacific chapter of Doctors Without Borders, have other more pressing issues with the location.
“Well first off, you’re talking about sports at 13-14,000 feet,” said Doctors Without Borders physician and snowboarding enthusiast Dr. William James Oden. “It’s one thing to compete at 6,000 feet, but it’s another thing to be up at the top of Mauna Kea. It takes several days to adjust to that altitude even if you’re in shape. The athletes will have to have supplemental oxygen. This really a bad idea.”
NBC Sports, who won the contract to what is now being called the Sky High Olympics, said it is already selecting and preparing a crew to endure what will be a challenging event.
“Any good broadcast, not just an Olympic broadcast, should have texture to it,” said American sportscaster Bob Costas who will be hosting the 2032 games. “It should have information, should have some history, should have something offbeat, quirky, humorous. And that’s everything the Hawaii Olympics will be. That’s my ideal, and I believe the world will come to celebrate it.”
Hawaiian officials expect the 2032 Winter Olympics to bring almost a billion dollars to the Hawaiian economy and should draw over 2 million people to the Islands.