Opinion: Hawaii’s Over-the-Top Safety Restrictions Hurt Local Sports the Most

On Oct. 1, ESPN announced that the nationally televised Maui Invitational would move to Las Vegas, Nevada. Instead of the annual visit to the tiny Lahaina Civic Center, the tournament will be held in the Michelob ULTRA Arena at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.

This is due to the over-the-top mandates local residents have suffered since the beginning of this pandemic.

The loyal fans of Hawaii have been waiting to cheer on their respected teams for two years. Now one of its most significant events on the island is yet again being stripped away from them. All the back and forth between politics and business decisions has really kept locals in Hawaii disappointed.

On Oct. 8, Gov. Ige announced that the state will allow fans to attend games at 50% capacity or 1,000 fans. Yet, on ESPN, we see outdoor sporting events in Michigan with 100,000 fans with no social distancing, and Gov. Ige only gives us the option to have 50% of fans allowed in the stands with social distancing.

Last Thursday, the San Francisco Giants played in the National League Division Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers in a game five winner-take-all. The game took place in Oracle Park, which did not require a vaccination or negative test for the game because it is an outdoor event. California has about 60% of its eligible population fully vaccinated, which is 10% below Hawaii’s rate on Monday (70.2%). Yet the attendance at Oracle Park that night was 42,275 people.

What is the hold up with some of these restrictions here in Hawaii? Why are we still being held to half capacity? These local games and events have reported few outbreaks of Covid-19. So, why can’t we just give the green light for people who are fully vaccinated to go to outdoor sporting events and concerts in Hawaii?

This has shown that the vaccine does work and that we should trust the science. Why do all these mandates hold Hawaii fans back when watch these fully vaccinated individuals attend sellout games with little to no outbreaks.

On Oct. 2 at Clarence T.C. Ching Athletics Complex, the University of Hawaii football team upset 18th-ranked Fresno State 27-24. This was the first time in 11 years Hawaii has taken down a Top 25-ranked team. The last time Hawaii won against a ranked opponent was in 2010 against the Colin Kaepernick-led University of Nevada Wolfpack, ranked 19th in the country, thrilling the 42,031 fans in attendance at Aloha Stadium.

No fans were allowed to watch and celebrate that win in person over Fresno State.

But our government officials allow tourists’ luaus to continue. Mind you, these are complete strangers hanging around each other while most of our locals are fully vaccinated.

I understand that we are still in a pandemic. We are on a small congested island with minimal resources to work with during these times. But why are locals paying the high costs of steep Covid limitations when it should be the ones visiting our islands.

Locals have suffered enough, and it’s about time Gov. Ige realizes that this state has stalled for far too long while we sit and watch all these stadiums host sporting events and concerts. Including CUH students that paid a lot of money to go watch Chaminade play at the Maui Invitational this year.