Organizers of the Arctic Winter Games say the event for northern youth athletes, held every two years, is set to be staged in Russia for the first time in 2026. The NWT will host again in 2028.
Since the Games’ inception, in 1970, the only hosts have been Canada, Alaska, and Greenland. The NWT has served as host on seven occasions, most recently in 2018.
This year’s event in Whitehorse was cancelled by the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. Alberta’s Wood Buffalo region will host in 2022.
In a news release on Friday, organizers said Alaska has been earmarked to host in 2024 and the Games are then set to be held in Russia’s Yamal-Nenets region in 2026.
Doris Landry, Arctic Winter Games operations coordinator, told Cabin Radio the Northwest Territories had been given 2028, Nunavut and Greenland will jointly host in 2030, and Yukon must wait till 2032 for its next chance to host the Games.
The Arctic Winter Games International Committee said it awaited a final bid package from officials in Yamal-Nenets, which must be approved before Russia’s hosting of the Games is finalized.
According to the committee, the Yamal contingent is still considered a guest member of the Arctic Winter Games even though Russian athletes are regular attendees. The Nunavik Quebec and Sapmi contingents are also listed as guest members.
Permanent members of the Arctic Winter Games are Alaska, northern Alberta, Greenland, the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and the Yukon.
“We are extremely pleased to be heading back to Alaska for the 2024 Games and also enthusiastic about the prospect of adding Yamal-Nenets to the hosting rotation, thereby providing new and exciting sport and cultural opportunities for the Arctic Winter Games participants,” said international committee vice-president John Rodda in Friday’s news release.
Yamal-Nenets is a region of western Siberia with a population of around 520,000.
Around six percent of its residents are Nenets people Indigenous to the Russian far north.