Whitehorse willing to host 2020 Arctic Winter Games

The City of Whitehorse will consider hosting the Arctic Winter Games in 2020, at the request of the Yukon government.

The City of Whitehorse will consider hosting the Arctic Winter Games in 2020, at the request of the Yukon government.

The city will enter into contract negotiations with the Arctic Winter Games International Committee, City Council decided on Monday evening.

Whitehorse has the necessary infrastructure, as well as experience hosting similar events, Coun. Samson Hartland said. Sport Yukon and the city’s sports organizations are supportive of the city hosting the biennial games, he added.

The negotiations will involve finances, sport selection and other issues.

“I feel that recreation is the foundation of many good things that happen in Whitehorse,” said Coun. Rob Fendrick, adding that he was “very much in favour” of the city hosting.  

The Arctic Winter Games bring together young athletes from across the circumpolar north to compete in various sports, including alpine skiing, snowshoeing, volleyball, and traditional Dene games like the pole push.

Originally, Iqaluit stepped up to host the games in 2020, but it later dropped out, in part because it can only accommodate a maximum of nine of the 21 sports.

Community Services Minister Currie Dixon has said that if Whitehorse doesn’t host, no other jurisdiction is prepared to.

“If we don’t host in 2020 the games probably won’t happen, unless there’s some sort of last-ditch effort by some other organization,” he told the News earlier this month.

According to the department, there are six “permanent partner” teams that are qualified to host the games—Yukon, Alaska, Northwest Territories, Northern Alberta, Greenland and Nunavut. Smaller teams from Russia, northern Quebec and the Sapmi region are considered too small to host.

Alaska hosted the games in 2014 and Greenland did so this year. The N.W.T. is hosting in 2018. Northern Alberta is hosting the 2019 Canada Games and couldn’t take the Arctic Winter Games on as well.

Whitehorse last hosted the games in 2012. They cost about $4.4 million.

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