Nunavut pulls out of hosting 2020 Arctic Winter Games

Citing a lack of facilities, inadequate funding, and a difficult climate, the Government of Nunavut has pulled out of a plan to host the 2020 Arctic Winter Games in Iqaluit.

Whitehorse considering hosting event, according to community services minister

Athletes from Team Nunavut take in the 2012 Arctic Winter Games in Whitehorse. Iqaluit was slated to host the 2020 Arctic Winter Games, but announced it is pulling out due to a lack of facilities and funding, as well as a challenging climate. Whitehorse is considering hosting the 2020 Games. (Philippe Morin/CBC)

Citing a lack of facilities, inadequate funding, and a difficult climate, the Government of Nunavut has pulled out of a plan to host the 2020 Arctic Winter Games in Iqaluit. 

Iqaluit previously co-hosted the Arctic Winter Games in 2002 with Nuuk, Greenland, but the 2020 Games were the first scheduled to be hosted solely within the territory of Nunavut. Nuuk is hosting the 2016 Games, but six sports were removed from the schedule and hockey events will be held in Iqaluit. 

"Currently Nunavut does not possess the climate or the geography for some of the outdoor events like alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, the biathlon events or the snowboarding," said Kyle Seeley, Nunavut's director of sport and recreation, about the decision. "The temperatures in March are below the standard temperatures permitted."

Seeley added that it would be too much to ask the people of Nuuk to help Iqaluit co-host in 2020, just four years after they host the Games themselves.

Hosting the 2020 Games in Nunavut would have marked the first time the six permanent members of the Arctic Winter Games — Alaska, Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Alberta, and Greenland — were able to host in succession. 

The 2018 Arctic Winter Games will be hosted in the South Slave region of the Northwest Territories.

Snowshoe athletes race for the finish at the 2014 Arctic Winter Games in Fairbanks Alaska. The Arctic Winter Games, the circumpolar North's largest multisport competition, hosts more than 2,000 athletes every two years. The 2020 Games would have been the first one hosted solely in the territory of Nunavut. (Garrett Hinchey/CBC)

Whitehorse considering hosting, says minister

Instead of Iqaluit, the 2020 Arctic Winter Games may be heading back to Whitehorse, according to Currie Dixon, Yukon's community services minister.

Yukon minister Currie Dixon says that Whitehorse is considering the 2020 hosting gig. 'The Yukon is very familiar with hosting these types of games. We have the facilities. We have the volunteers,' he said. 'Quite frankly, we do it better than anyone else, I think.' (CBC)
At a Sport Yukon Awards event last week, Dixon said the Arctic Winter Games International Committee reached out to the Yukon government about the possibility of taking on hosting duties. Whitehorse last hosted the Arctic Winter Games in 2012.

"The Yukon is very familiar with hosting these types of games. We have the facilities. We have the volunteers," said Dixon. "Quite frankly, we do it better than anyone else, I think. 

"But of course you can't just make that decision on our own. We have to talk to our partners, and we'll be doing that in the weeks and months to come."

Dixon said that he's already had an initial talk with the federal minister of sport about potential funding for the 2020 event and has reached out to Whitehorse Mayor Dan Curtis regarding the possibility.

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