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At This Rate, Arctic Town Fears It Could Soon Host Summer Olympics

Village in Finland hopes to draw attention to global warming with its bid to land Games
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 5, 2021 5:10 PM CST

(Newser) – "I was with my daughter outside an hour ago,” Erkki Parkinnen said Friday evening on a Zoom call. "It was nice." The temperature was up to 14 degrees Fahrenheit in Salla, northern Finland. That's cold, but it's how Parkkinen, the town's mayor, likes it. Salla's hearty residents cherish the bitter cold, the frozen rivers and lakes, and the reindeer running wild through the pristine, snow-covered forests of Lapland. But the way things are going in the world, with rising temperatures and increasingly unpredictable weather patterns, the village of 3,400 is worried that it could all disappear, the AP reports. To draw attention to the threat of climate change to his home 20 miles north of the Arctic Circle, Salla has launched a tongue-in-cheek bid for the 2032 Summer Olympics. "Maybe people will start to think a little bit more," he said. "If they think the Arctic areas are worth saving, maybe they will do that for their own homes and lands. That's something that would be good for them and good for us."

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Which explains the Olympic bid that Salla hopes to lose. "We don't want to have to arrange the Summer Games in 2032," Parkinnen said. “We don't want to be the best place. Ever." But if the world doesn't act soon, Parkinnen frets that Salla could have the climate for swimming and beach volleyball. He's already noticed changes. The snow seems to arrive later. Temperatures fluctuate more. It's getting increasingly difficult to carve out safe trails for skiing. Reindeer are having trouble finding food. “It didn't happen before like that," the mayor says. "That's why we are concerned. The town produced a light video on the supposed benefits of holding the Summer Olympics there. In it, a man climbs into the water of an ice-covered lake while licking an ice cream cone, noting that this could soon be a venue for water sports. "Ice will be gone," he says, "and this will be a perfect lake." A woman strings up a net at a site she says will be suitable for beach volleyball when the snow turns to sand in about a decade. A skateboarder says he can't wait to pull off gnarly tricks in 2032. "No more slippery ice," he says. "Thanks, global warming."

(Read more global warming stories.)

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