As the world does what it can to stop the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19), so, too, is the 2020 Arctic Winter Games host society.

The host society issued a news release on Monday outlining the preventative measures it plans on taking to try and stem any sort of outbreak when the Games begin in Whitehorse on March 15. Among those steps include providing extra tissue and disinfectant at all venues; educational signage at all washrooms; extra volunteers to give out hand sanitizer at food service areas and providing at least one isolation room at every accommodations venue should there be any indication of anyone with symptoms.

In the same release, Dr. Brendan Hanley, the chief medical health officer for Yukon, stated that health officials in the territory were monitoring the virus in co-operation with other jurisdictions both here at home and internationally.

There is no immediate threat to anyone at the present time, he added.

“At this point, the risk to the Canadian public being affected by 2019-nCoV remains low, and there is no reason to change travel plans for this event,” he said.

A letter from Dr. Hanley was sent to all nine participating delegations, including Team NT, as well as the Games’ international committee on Feb. 2 outlining what the plans are at the present time.

Doug Rentmeister, Team NT’s chef de mission, said the host society has done a good job at making everyone aware about what’s happening on the ground.

“They’ve been in constant contact to ensure we don’t get ourselves into any sort of pickle when it comes to this,” he said. “We’ve been assured that if anything changes, we would be told right away so we can pass that information along.”

A couple of NWT flags hang out at the opening ceremony of the 2018 Arctic Winter Games in Hay River. One thing the 2018 Arctic Winter Games didn’t have to worry about was the threat of Coronavirus (COVID-19), something the host society for the 2020 Arctic Winter Games has to contend with.
photo courtesy of Thorsten Gohl

When it comes to Team NT’s plans, Rentmeister said it involves not having any sort of what-ifs and dealing with any potential problem as prudently as possible.

“The only thing we can influence is to tell the kids and anyone who’s a part of our team to get their flu shot before going,” he said. “Quarantine is not fun and we want everyone to be aware of what’s being said.”

The chefs de mission of all nine delegations will have a meeting by teleconference Thursday and Rentmeister said there will be an update from the host society on where things sit.

“We’re telling everyone to be vigilant and aware at all times and if anything happens, we will do something about it as quickly as we can,” he said.

Doris Landry, the international committee’s operations co-ordinator, said it has been receiving regular updates through the host society from Dr. Hanley’s office.

“As has been the practice at past Games, medical personnel will brief chefs de mission and the International Committee on a daily basis beginning March 12,” she said.

James McCarthy

After being a nomad around North America following my semi-debauched post-secondary days, I put down my roots in Yellowknife in 2006. I’ve been keeping this sports seat warm with NNSL for the better...

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