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Yukon government gives a greenlight to Whitehorse’s Arctic Winter Games bid

Territory commits to funding and in-kind support
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Team Yukon athletes wave flags at the 2012 Arctic Winter Games. (Justin Kennedy/Yukon News) Team Yukon athletes wave flags at the 2012 Arctic Winter Games opening ceremony in Whitehorse. (Justin Kennedy/Yukon News)

The Yukon government will support the City of Whitehorse’s bid to host the 2026 Arctic Winter Games (AWG).

The territorial government has committed financial and in-kind support of $4.35 million for the event, said a press release dated July 27.

The Games are estimated to cost $9.55 million, reflecting a 22 per cent increase over what had been budgeted for the 2020 Games. Those Games had been scheduled for Whitehorse, but were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Going forward, the Government of Yukon will work towards an agreement with the City of Whitehorse and territorial sport organizations to formalize roles and responsibilities to help ensure a successful event,” the statement said.

The statement said the city has shown it can be a world-class sport city.

The International Arctic Winter Games Committee suspended Russia from hosting the 2026 AWG following its invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

While condemning the ongoing war in Ukraine, the territorial government said it is pleased to be in a position to step up and support circumpolar athletes in a time of global crisis.

“These Games are an opportunity for Yukoners to enjoy international-level sports and cheer on local athletes,” the statement read.

In the release, Community Services Minister Richard Mostyn said AWG gathers athletes, spectators and sports enthusiasts to share their pride and encourage healthy living through sport. He noted the government is excited to be supporting the Games and to give Yukoners the opportunity to cheer for local athletes on home turf.

“We know there are many steps needed to get to 2026, but this decision is the first in this journey,” he said.

“I was pleased to be able to share the news of our decision with City of Whitehorse Mayor Laura Cabott and now with all Yukoners. Together we’ll create an experience and lasting legacy that Yukoners will cherish for years.”

A July 27 statement from the City of Whitehorse thanked the government for showing its support for hosting and added that the city has a long history of supporting multi-sport events at the national and international level.

The statement said the support will allow Yukon athletes to showcase their skills and compete at the highest level in front of a home crowd, surrounded by friends, family and their community.

In addition to the athletes, the city said the Games will bring thousands of visitors and fans who will contribute directly to the businesses and entertainment industry in the territory.

“The people of Whitehorse are ready for this exciting opportunity and we are proud to have a chance to host the 2026 Arctic Winter Games,” the statement read.

The city had voted in favour of hosting for the 2026 Games, contingent on the territory’s support, earlier this month.

In a release, Yukon Party Leader Currie Dixon said the Official Opposition is “thrilled” with the Yukon government’s decision.

“If the bid is successful, hosting the Games will be a boon to young Yukoners and the sports community, as they will have a chance to compete at home after not hosting events in 2020 and 2027.”

He added there is the notable economic benefit of attracting thousands of athletes and their supporters to the Yukon.

Per the release, the Yukon Party has asked the government to take a different approach than it did with the bidding for the 2027 Canada Winter Games when it withdrew from supporting hosting the event. The release added the Official Opposition will be monitoring the bid’s progress in the months ahead as Whitehorse prepares its bid to host the Games.

“Yukon government support should include measures like maximizing its in-kind contributions to offset Games costs and pushing for open applications for the host society board of director positions,” the statement from the Yukon Party read.

“The government must also commit to respect the city’s request that all of the funds provided to the Games are new money and not taken away from other municipal priorities.”

Contact Patrick Egwu at patrick.egwu@yukon-news.com



Patrick Egwu

About the Author: Patrick Egwu

I’m one of the newest additions at Yukon News where I have been writing about a range of issues — politics, sports, health, environment and other developments in the territory.
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