Sport Yukon executive director Tracey Bilsky has been appointed as the host society president of the 2026 Arctic Winter Games (AWG).
Whitehorse city council appointed Bilsky to lead the organization of the games in the territory.
The role of the host society is to stage the games, and includes taking on responsibilities such as developing a budget, securing sponsorships, coordinating logistics and transportation.
Bilsky said she is honoured with the new responsibility. The next steps will be to sign the agreement with the Arctic Winter Games International Committee (AWGIC) and then start building the executive committee and volunteer leaders.
“We will be seeing who in the community is interested in joining this train,” she said. “I want to make sure that the experience of the athletes are excellent and economically responsible and that we build capacity and volunteerism in the younger generation.”
She said this is a really good opportunity for the territory’s sports governing bodies to become invigorated and have something exciting to work toward that will benefit their membership.
“One of the very first things we will do is to reach out to First Nations government and communities to build a structure they are fully involved in right from the very start,” she said.
The 2026 games were initially planned to be hosted in Yamal, Russia. However, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022, the AWGIC suspended Yamal’s participation.
The Yukon was set to host the Games in 2020, but the plans were later cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Bilksy said organizers will be taking advantage of work that was done in 2020, noting she is all about “renew, reuse and recycle.”
“Tracey is a proud Yukoner who exemplifies the qualities of strong leadership, administrative experience, and a passion for sport,” said Mayor Laura Cabott in an Oct. 11 statement.
Cabott said Bilsky will be responsible for leading the development and implementation of the games, noting that she is passionate about sport and has participated in more than 20 different games as an athlete, chef de mission, vice-president of sport and other related board and committee roles.
“Going forward, the host society will start to build the pathway to the 2026 games by engaging a diverse group of executive board members, volunteers and a general manager with the goal of fulfilling the mandate of the Arctic Winter Games International Committee,” she said.
Cabott said Whitehorse is a sports city that has “time and again, shown that we can successfully host major, multi-sport events.”
In the coming years, she added, the host society will be working hard to create a games that “highlights our city, showcases our athletes, and brings together the best athletes from across the circumpolar north and we are proud to have Tracey leading that charge.”
The games are an opportunity for you to compete against the best athletes in the circumpolar region, learn about different cultures and meet new friends, it was noted.
“One of my goals is to make sure that we can create new ideas to make this games sustainable for future hosts. I’m looking forward to gathering a group of creative people that can look at things in different ways,” Bilsky said. “We want to see the legacy we can leave behind in the sports community.”
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