North

Greenland athlete assaulted at Arctic Winter Games, organizers mishandled assault, says father

Pilo Samuelson says an older athlete broke his son's wrist at a bonfire during the Games — and he’s disappointed with how organizers handled the violent incident.

Pilo Samuelson says an older athlete broke his son's wrist at a bonfire during the Games

Athletes at the closing ceremonies of the 2018 Arctic Winter Games in Hay River, N.W.T. Pilo Samuelson says a Team Alberta North athlete broke his son's wrist during a bonfire. Despite assurances that the athlete would be removed from the games, Samuelson said the athlete attended the closing ceremonies. (Mario DeCiccio/CBC)

The father of a Greenlandic athlete says his son was attacked by another athlete during the Arctic Winter Games — and he's disappointed with how organizers handled the violent incident.

Pilo Samuelson said his 16-year-old son was at a bonfire after an event in Hay River, N.W.T., last week, talking to a girl — when a 22-year-old athlete from the Alberta North team jumped him.

"He got assaulted by an individual who grabbed him, he thinks from behind, and threw him on the ground so hard that he broke his wrist."

Samuelson said there were no chaperones or organizers at the bonfire, but other people intervened.

RCMP in Hay River confirmed that an athlete was taken into custody on March 23 and later released.

"The investigation continues, with no charges at this time," an RCMP spokesperson said in an email.

The international sporting event was held in Hay River and Fort Smith between March 18 and 24.

Samuelson said he immediately contacted the AWG international committee to ask that the athlete be removed from the games. He said a committee member from Greenland confirmed that was their intention.

But that evening, Samuelson said his son saw the athlete who broke his wrist at a medal ceremony.

"He was quite surprised to see him there," Samuelson said.

"The individual ignored him and walked by, but he was quite scared."

Team suspended athlete

In a written statement, the AWG international committee said Team Alberta North suspended the athlete from competition following the incident, but he was allowed at events — including the closing ceremonies — in the company of a coach.

The statement from the international committee said Team Alberta North will follow up with "further disciplinary action following the Games."

"The Arctic Winter Games international committee takes the safety and care of participants very seriously. The RCMP and Team Alberta North are handling this incident appropriately."

Samuelson said the AWG generally has a "wonderful team spirit and comradeship."

"I was really shocked to hear there had been this violent incident."

Samuelson is not looking for an apology, but he expected games organizers to more strongly condemn the violence. He said the athlete should not have been allowed to attend ceremonies.

"It has been mishandled," Samuelson said.

"I think that was a wrong decision. It shows no respect for the person he attacked. It doesn't show any respect for the sport, which is all about respect."

With files from Joanne Stassen

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