Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Olympics: Pacific Islander weightlifter's dances bring attention to climat change's impact on his nation

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David Katoatau's crazy dancing has a deeper purpose.
By Louis Chan
Reprinted from AsAm News


DAVID KATOATAU of Kiribati placed 14th in the Olympic’s 105KG, but that’s not why people are talking about him.

The 5’7″ 231-pound Olympian is doing his best to raise awareness of both his country and climate change.

He has people talking with the way he exits the stage after his lifts.

Kirabati is an island nation in the Central Pacific. Most have never heard of it. Katoatau hopes his antics will bring more attention to his country and to the plight of climate change.

“I wrote an open letter to the world last year to tell people about all the homes lost to rising sea levels,” he told Reuters. I don’t know how many years it will be before it sinks. We don’t have the resources to save ourselves.”



Katoatau began his dancing crusade during the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland two years ago. That was the first gold medal in any global sporting event for his tiny island nation of Kiribati, according to Reuters.

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His dancing as Kiribati's flag bearer at the Rio Games' opening ceremony made him a social media sensation.

Kiribati, located in the Central Pacific, is suffering "extreme coastal erosion not just of the beaches but also of the land" according to its government.

Some scientists have predicted a catastrophic effect on Kiribati's 21 inhabited islands, which has a population of about 100,000.

"Most people don't know where Kiribati is," Katoatau told Reuters. "I want people to know more about us so I use weightlifting, and my dancing, to show the world.

"I wrote an open letter to the world last year to tell people about all the homes lost to rising sea levels. I don't know how many years it will be before it sinks."

(Views from the Edge contributed to this report.)