HONOLULU (KHON2) — Hawaii hosts the Junior Pan Pacific Swimming Championships next week. Officials said they are eager to bring more large sporting events like this to the islands.

From marathons to water polo and golf, Hawaii Sen. Glenn Wakai said large sporting events are vital to our economy and our well-being.

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“We always look at the economic opportunities and who’s coming, who’s spending money,” Wakai said. “But I also think that it’s important for the people of Hawaii to have something to rally behind.”

That’s why Wakai said they are pushing to bring more events to the islands and he said he would like to diversify.

“We really should look at taking advantage of Hawaii’s strengths and one of which is water sports,” said Wakai.

On Wednesday, Aug. 24, the Junior Pan Pacific Swimming Championships kick off at the K. Mark Takai Veterans Memorial Aquatic Center on Oahu.

Nate Serota, spokesperson for the Department of Parks & Recreation said regular public swimming schedules will be suspended from Friday, Aug. 19 to 28 for the tournament.

“There’s about 227 teenagers ages 13 to 18 years old that are competing from countries around the Pan Pacific area. To the best of my knowledge about 1000 supporting staff and families are coming down as well,” said Serota.

The four-day event will host athletes from 10 countries and is considered a stepping stone to the Olympics.

“It’s really an honor to be able to have this caliber of international competition here on Oahu and here at a city park facility,” Serota said.

The event is free to the public and will also be broadcasted on TV and the web.

“I think the exposure is key to showcasing Hawaii to the entire planet,” Wakai said.

One of the biggest, most successful sports events, has been the Honolulu Marathon, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.

“They generate about $109 million in economic spend during that week when visitors from mainly from Japan, as well as locals, really infuse a lot of cash into our economy,” Wakai explained. “So I look at the Honolulu Marathon and look at them as the example of how we should be doing sporting events.”

The Hawaii Tourism Authority Chief Brand Officer Kalani Ka’ana’ana said that the Hawaii Tourism Authority has supported world championship events like Molokai Hoe and Na Wahine O Ke Kai for years

“Canoe paddling is another important pillar of the Hawaii brand because it’s Hawaiian, it’s authentic. So surfing and canoe paddling are two pillars of that,” Ka’ana’ana said. “We think about things like Duke’s ocean fest, which is later this month, again, honoring Duke Kahanamoku and surfing. We think about surfing as this iconic part of the Hawaii brand, and the Hawaiian Islands.”

The Molokai Hoe and Na Wahine O Ke Kai have been canceled since 2020 due to the pandemic. Ka’ana’ana said he hopes they will resume soon.

He said many factors come into play when they’re discussing events to solicit and promote. One of them is facilities.

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According to Wakai, the state’s ability to bring in other mega sporting events hinges on the future of Aloha Stadium. He said they are already in discussions with the United Soccer League and Major League Rugby as tenants in the future stadium.