The 2020 Arctic Winter Games, scheduled for March 15-21 in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, have been cancelled due to concerns about COVID-19.
The announcement was made today in a press release followed by a news conference in Whitehorse.
“I’m making this recommendation out of concern for the health and safety of Yukoners, of all athletes, of staff, of volunteers, and of families,” said Dr. Catherine Elliott, Yukon’s acting chief medical health officer.
Some 2,000 athletes from around the world, including several from Alaska, were expected to attend what would have been the 50th anniversary of the games. The nations that are on the roster include: Alaska, US; Greenland; Northern Alberta, Canada; Northwest Territories, Canada; Nunavik, Quebec, Canada; Nunavut, Canada; Sami people, Sápmi (Norway, Sweden, Finland, Kola Peninsula of Russia); Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug, Russia; and Yukon, Canada
In a statement, the Yukon government said “It has been determined that cancelling the 2020 AWG is the most responsible precautionary measure.”
The risk for the virus remains low in Yukon, but the committee is concerned about athletes traveling from around the world and then having to live together in close quarters during the games may be a recipe for spreading the virus through the Arctic.
The AWG are hosted in different Arctic locations; the last time they were held in Alaska was in 2014.