Organizers say everything will be ready when the first officials and volunteers begin arriving in the South Slave for the Arctic Winter Games on Wednesday.

Final preparations are being rushed to completion in Hay River and Fort Smith, with thousands of athletes, coaches, officials, volunteers, and spectators due to arrive in the two towns later this week. The first athletes are set to move in to their accommodation on Friday.

“Things are going well,” said Todd Shafer, general manager of the South Slave’s host society for the Games. “It’s just wrapping up the closures on things. It’s coming together really nicely.”

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With the towns’ limited accommodation a huge challenge for everyone from organizers to parents, First Air – a major sponsor of the Games – has launched a series of daily flights to and from Yellowknife, Hay River and Fort Smith. Fares between Yellowknife and Hay River are $175, or $250 between Yellowknife and Fort Smith.

Shafer, however, is more worried about building beds than finding them at this stage.

“Getting the shower village up and running so it’s ready to go for when the athletes get here,” is one task left on Shafer’s to-do list. Another is “making sure we have all the people we need to be able to do the set-up of the athletes’ village, like the bunk beds.”

Releasing the event’s theme song can be scratched off that list. Serena Ryder’s Be The Ones was made available to the public on Friday – though she won’t be in the South Slave to perform it during the Games itself.

“We were pretty excited,” said Shafer. “It’s not very often that we get an opportunity to connect with someone of her caliber. It’s exciting to have Serena as our theme song artist.

“Our marketing team did a blanket bunch of emails out to some international and Canadian artists. Serena’s team got back to us and had a real affinity for the North, and wanted to get involved. It worked out fantastic for us.”

Ryder had previously written the song, but it had never been released. “The timing was perfect for us, especially once we heard the song and the connections to what it could be around the Arctic Winter Games,” said Shafer.