We know that the 2020 Arctic Winter Games won’t be happening because of the threat brought on by the coronavirus (COVID-19).

But there’s another major multi-sport competition coming up later this year that could be in the cross-hairs.

Sahara Lafferty, left, and Caitlin Zorn are all smiles prior to the opening ceremony of the 2017 North American Indigenous Games in Toronto. The 2020 edition of the Games this coming July in Halifax is still on for now, says Aaron Wells of the Aboriginal Sports Circle of the NWT.
photo courtesy of Aboriginal Sports Circle of the NWT

The 2020 North American Indigenous Games (NAIG) are scheduled to happen in Halifax this July and it’s expected to be a much larger show than the Arctic Winter Games was planning on being. More than 5,000 athletes were in Toronto for the 2017 edition and around the same number is expected to converge on the Nova Scotia capital in a few months time.

Aaron Wells, executive director of the Aboriginal Sports Circle of the NWT, said he honestly has no answer as to what’s going on.

“I know the host society has been having conversations about it but I haven’t been given any definitive answer on what’s happening,” he said. “I know they’re taking a long look at what’s happening with other major sporting events around the world, such as the Summer Olympics in Tokyo this year, but there’s been no decision made as of yet.”

The one thing NAIG 2020 has going for it is time as it won’t be happening until the summer and the situation could change by then.

But Wells, who sits on the NAIG Council as the Sports Circle’s representative, said the situation surrounding COVID-19 has come up in recent talks.

“We know things can change and we could be in better shape by that time but we’ve seen what’s happened around the world recently,” he said. “Things can change rapidly, like it did with the Arctic Winter Games.”

Like the Arctic Winter Games, NAIG is an international event with teams from the U.S. joining in with provinces and territories for the triennial gathering.

Wells said that’s an important fact to remember.

“This is an international competition and people are coming in from all over,” he said. “There will be some tough decisions that might have to be made and with the Arctic Winter Games being cancelled, who knows?”

There is a face-to-face meeting planned with all 26 representatives of the NAIG Council next month with a conference call after that in May and Wells expects there to be some sort of response by then.

“We’ll have a better idea by that time what will be going on,” he said. “I’m sure the right decision will be made and they’ll come to the right conclusion, no matter what it is.”

James McCarthy

I've been hanging around the office as the sports editor for the better part of the last 16 years. In August 2022, NNSL Media decided to promote me to the managing editor's position, which I accepted after...

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