Arctic Winter Games International Committee suspends Yamal, Russia

Yamal, Russia has been suspended from participation in the Arctic Winter Games.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine cited in censure as Arctic Winter Games organization calls for peace

Team Yamal athletes in Hay River, N.W.T., for the 2018 Arctic Winter Games. Yamal, Russia, has been suspended by the International Arctic Winter Games Committee. (Philippe Morin/CBC)

The International Arctic Winter Games Committee has suspended Yamal, Russia, from its biennial circumpolar sport and culture event, citing the Russian invasion of Ukraine in a statement Tuesday evening. 

The Arctic Winter Games are held every two years, and are an important circumpolar sports and cultural event for youth. About 2,000 athletes from around the world — including from Russia, Greenland, Finland and Norway, as well as Yukon, Nunavut, Nunavik, the Northwest Territories, northern Alberta and Alaska — usually attend, along with a similar number of volunteers.

In a statement released Tuesday evening, the Arctic Winter Games International Committee announced it had "suspended Yamal, Russia, with immediate effect, following the attacks unfolding in Ukraine."

"The Arctic Winter Games International Committee is deeply concerned regarding the ongoing events in Ukraine and the grave impacts on human life," stated AWG International Committee president John Flynn.

"We join our global partners in calling for peace."

Russia's Yamal-Nenets autonomous region is approximately 2,500 kilometres northeast of Moscow. It has a significant Indigenous population, and has been participating in the Arctic Winter Games since 2004. In 2020, the AWG International Committee announced that the region was slated to host the games in 2026.

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The next Arctic Winter Games were scheduled for Jan. 29 to Feb. 4, 2023, in Northern Alberta's Wood Buffalo region, after having been postponed from March 2022 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.