Archery athletes miss their shot at competing in first Arctic Winter Games
This would have been the first year the sport was included in the games
Ferghus Rutherford-Simon found out the Arctic Winter Games were being cancelled while he was practicing for them in Yellowknife this weekend.
Archery NT was hosting an open camp for the athletes to finalize their training just one week before what would have been the opening ceremonies.
On Saturday, Yukon's acting chief medical officer of health announced the games would be cancelled at a news conference, citing concerns over COVID-19.
This would have been the first year that archery was included in the games.
"We've been practicing lots," Rutherford-Simon said. "We came to this to get a bit more practice in, so we could do better at the games."
While the N.W.T. archery athletes found out the news on Saturday, they still bundled up their bows and arrows and finished their practice competition at École St. Joseph School in Yellowknife on Sunday.
'I was distraught'
For some of the athletes, there is concern around whether or not they are going to qualify again — as the sport gains popularity.
To boost participation in the sport, the Aboriginal Sports Circle has held archery workshops in partnership with schools and gym teachers in all 33 N.W.T. communities.
For Amy Paziuk, who is 12-years-old, these would have been her first games, and she worries she might not make the team next year.
"I was distraught, I thought … it's going to be harder to get in next time, more people are going to be aware of the sport so I might not have as high of a chance of getting in."
Future in the next games
Ian Legaree, the technical director of the Arctic Winter Games International Committee, said the organization will carry their approval of the sport into the next games.
"We would've done an evaluation of archery at these games, obviously that's not going to happen so we'll carry that forward, and we'll do an evaluation after 2022."
Carson Roche, the Program Coordinator at the Aboriginal Sports Centre Northwest Territories, helped to organize the training event in Yellowknife. He said his biggest concerns right now are about the athletes.
"They put all this time, effort, money, and travelling, I just feel bad for the athletes. I want an alternative for them."
On Monday, Doug Rentmeister, Sport North's executive director, said athletes will be reimbursed for anything they've paid so far and they'll also get to keep their official uniforms.
For now, those that will be eligible to play will have to keep their eyes set on the 2022 Arctic Winter Games as their next target.