Arctic Games committee maintains course for Greenland 2016

Despite objections from territorial sport ministers and Alaska's lieutenant governor, six sports events axed from the 2016 Arctic Winter Games in Greenland will remain excluded, it was announced this week.

Despite objections from territorial sport ministers and Alaska’s lieutenant governor, six sports events axed from the 2016 Arctic Winter Games in Greenland will remain excluded, it was announced this week.

The decision handed down by the Arctic Winter Games International Committee is disappointing, said Yukon Sports Minister Elaine Taylor.

“This is a matter that has been of great importance to our sports stakeholders in the territory and throughout the North,” said Taylor. “We have been working closely with our sports stakeholders for the last eight months to try and explore any and all options that would see a more complete … set of Games in 2016.

“It is a disappointment. That said, we accept the decision and are now focused moving forward with the work that needs to be done to see a multi-sport competition for young athletes across the North.”

It was announced last September that due to a lack of facilities, the 2016 Arctic Games in Nuuk, Greenland, would not include speedskating, figure skating, curling, gymnastics, dog mushing and midget hockey.

During a meeting in Vancouver at the start of May, Vuntut Gwitchin MLA Darius Elias, Taylor and her northern counterparts presented the international committee with a resolution to reintroduce the six events.

The resolution asked the committee to consider inviting another location, inside or outside the Games membership, to host the six events.

Even though bantam and female hockey will be hosted by Iqaluit, Nunavut, as a satellite venue in 2016, the international committee did not budge when asked for similar solutions for the remaining six events last month.

Also tabled at the Vancouver meeting was a motion for Alaska and Canada’s three territories to collaborate on a multi-sport event to house the six removed sports separate from the 2016 Greenland Games.

Now that push has come to shove, that’s exactly what they plan to do.

“We would have preferred to host a set of Games under the Arctic Games banner … but now we’re moving forward and looking at options for those sports removed,” said Taylor.

“The Northwest Territories has offered to take the lead on convening a newly formed committee that will include representation from the respective regions. That will be for the purpose of identifying a host jurisdiction for the event and would bring recommendations forward for governments’ considerations this October.”

Greenland and Nunavut co-hosted the 2002 Games, but following those Games the international committee officially abolished the practice of co-hosting.

“This particular issue pertaining to 2016 highlights challenges in the future, those have been brought to light in Games beyond 2016,” said Taylor. “We need to take a look at finding solutions coming down the pipe as well.

“The international committee has agreed to convene a meeting to discuss and review its strategic plan and policies with all the leaders during the summer of 2014.”

Next year’s 2014 Arctic Winter Games will take place in Fairbanks, Alaska.

Contact Tom Patrick at

tomp@yukon-news.com

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