Yukon Sports Minister Elaine Taylor, Vuntut Gwitchin MLA Darius Elias and their northern counterparts presented the Arctic Winter Games International Committee a resolution to reintroduce six sports events excluded from the 2016 Games in Nuuk, Greenland, during a meeting in Vancouver Sunday morning.
Political leaders from the Games’ five other permanent members joined the Yukon representatives in discussing various options to allow speedskating, figure skating, curling, gymnastics, dog mushing, and midget hockey to be included in 2016.
“There was a resolution that was put on the table for the committee’s consideration and that basically, if the resolution was to go ahead, it would enable the international committee to extend an invitation to another jurisdiction,” said Taylor. “That jurisdiction could be within the Arctic Winter Games family, or it could be outside. That would invite traditional Arctic Winter Games sports teams – the six primarily that have been excluded – to what the Alaskan lieutenant governor referred to as an Arctic Games exhibition or invitational set of Games.”
Basically, the resolution asks the international Games society to consider inviting another location, inside or outside the Games membership, to host the six expelled sports. Events held at the satellite venue could be considered an official part of the 2016 Games or an exhibition.
Iceland, which is not a member jurisdiction of the Games, was presented as a possible location during the meeting because of its close proximity to Greenland, its possession of an international airport and sufficient infrastructure.
However, Iceland is simply an example of a possible location, said Taylor.
“I don’t believe anyone has talked to Iceland because we don’t even have the thumbs-up from the international committee,” she added. “It could be Iceland, it could be somewhere else.”
If the Games committee rejects the resolution – or if Greenland does, as it is contractually empowered to do – the representatives from Canada’s three territories pledged to host the six abandoned events as exhibition under the Games’ name, or completely separate from the Arctic Games.
“With or without the Arctic Games banner,” said Taylor. “We’re prepared to host a set of Games that would coincide with those Arctic Games, or there about, so our Team Yukon athletes would have the Team Yukon jackets, it just may not have the actually Arctic Winter Games banner on it.”
The meeting, which included representatives from Alaska, N.W.T., Nunavut, Northern Alberta and Greenland, helped clarify some of the obstacles to including the six sports that were sidelined in September due to Nuuk’s lack of facilities, said Taylor.
Greenland’s Games society made it clear it will not reopen its Arctic Games contract, removing any chance that the 2016 host will reconsider the removal of the six events.
Iqaluit, Nunavut, will host the bantam level hockey tournament in the 2016 Games as a satellite venue, but representatives said the Nunavut capital is incapable of also hosting the six other events. (Iqaluit is vying to host the 2020 Arctic Games.)
The Games committee will make the decision on the resolution by the end of the month, said Taylor.
Greenland and Nunavut co-hosted the 2002 Games, but following those Games the international committee officially abolished the practice of co-hosting.
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