Environment

Why a tiny town in Lapland is bidding to host the summer Olympics

The residents of the Finnish town Salla are making the most of climate change, saying they’d be the perfect host of the 2032 Olympics: “Warm heart, we have it. Warm place, coming soon.”

Dashing through the snow in a bid to host the Olympics

A town in Lapland has announced a bid to host the summer Olympics in 2032.

“Welcome to Salla, the coldest place in Finland,” says local mayor Erkki Parkkinen in a tongue-in-cheek video declaring its candidacy, as residents explain how by 2032 Salla would be the ideal host.

“In 12 years, ice will be gone and this will be a perfect lake,” says a man taking a dip in freezing water while eating an ice cream. “No more slippery ice, thanks global warming!” adds a skateboarder.

Salla may only have a population of around 3,000 people – who are greatly outnumbered by the reindeer in the area – but it has plenty of sporting facilities.

A map of the town has been created showing where activities happen. Today there is skating and curling on the frozen lake. By 2032, those will become the swimming and beach volleyball arenas.

Salla Olympics
2_salla-2032_bid
Salla residents look forward to the impact climate change will bring

Like all other Olympic Games, branding is of prime importance. Salla’s logo has the yellow Olympic ring melting snow on a mountain. There’s also a mascot – Kesa the heat-exhausted reindeer.

salla olympic mascot
salla olympic mascot
Kesa, the heat exhausted reindeer is Salla's Olympic mascot

But behind Salla’s not-so-serious bid is a serious point. It is to raise awareness of the impact climate change is having on towns like Salla that are seeing their climate changing.

Mayor Parkkinen explains: “If we stand back and do nothing, letting global warming prevail, we will lose our identity, and the town we love – as well as many others around the world – will cease to exist as we know it.”

The campaign asks us all to do what we can to save Salla.

“We’ve created this bid to raise attention about the climate emergency. Salla is changing. The whole planet is changing. Not in a good way.

“2032 will be a “turning point” in the battle against Global Warming. We either act now or our legacy to the next generation will be a worse planet than the one we met and we arrived to.”

Other cities considering making bids to host in 2032 include Budapest, Doha, Istanbul, Madrid, Mumbai and Shanghai. If the Tokyo games were cancelled again this year, it’s likely they would be awarded it, 2032 being the next free slot after Paris 2024 and Los Angeles 2028.

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