Team Yukon athletes wave flags at the 2012 Arctic Winter Games opening ceremony in Whitehorse. The 2022 event in Wood Buffalo, Alta., has been postponed indefinitely. (Justin Kennedy/Yukon News file)

Team Yukon athletes wave flags at the 2012 Arctic Winter Games opening ceremony in Whitehorse. The 2022 event in Wood Buffalo, Alta., has been postponed indefinitely. (Justin Kennedy/Yukon News file)

2022 Arctic Winter Games postponed indefinitely

Wood Buffalo, Alta., Host Society committed to rescheduling at a later date

The 2022 Arctic Winter Games (AWG) has been postponed, organizers announced on March 3.

“The health and safety of our circumpolar participants, coaches and volunteers is of paramount concern, and although it is a great disappointment that we must postpone the 2022 Arctic Winter Games, we are steadfast in our decision,” said John Flynn, AWG president, in a statement.

The 2022 AWG was set to take place in Wood Buffalo, an Alberta municipality encompassing Fort McMurray, from March 6 to 12, 2022.

Flynn said the decision to postpone resulted from “extensive consultation” with the Wood Buffalo Host Society and Alberta government.

“We considered their critical feedback, we analysed the relevant risks and considered our tolerance for those risks, and we learned from best practices employed by other major games leaders to come to this difficult decision,” Flynn said.

Melissa Blake, co-chair of the 2022 AWG, said in a statement that the local host society looks forward to welcoming the games “at a later date.”

A date to reschedule the games has not yet been decided.

The AWG is scheduled to take place every two years. The postponent was announced almost exactly one year after the 2020 AWG in Whitehorse was cancelled at the onset of the pandemic in Canada.

According to a press release, the international and Wood Buffalo host societies are working together to reschedule and announce a new date in the near future.

Leela Aheer, Alberta’s minister of culture, said in a statement that she shares in the “collective disappointment” caused by the postponement, adding that event organizers faced “unenviable” challenges.

“We support their decision to keep the health and safety of the athletes and their communities as their primary focus,” Aheer said.

“We also remain committed to working with the host society to ensure a safe and enjoyable games in Wood Buffalo once new dates are established.”

Contact Gabrielle Plonka at gabrielle.plonka@yukon-news.com

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